Monday, July 27, 2009

RIP Merce Cunningham

Last night renowned contemporary choreographer Merce Cunningham died at the age of 90. Cunningham founded the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 1953 after studying under Martha Graham. He was also know for his collaboration with composer John Cage (who was also his life partner) and with painters including Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. The Washington Post has more information about Cunningham's life and career. Here's some of Sarah Kaufman's article:

But his achievement is not limited to style, subject matter, quantity of works (nearly 200) or even the extraordinary longevity of his world-renowned troupe in a field known for spotty funding and wavering public support. Mr. Cunningham also invented radical working methods that exploded the mold and produced new ways of moving.

Simply put, Mr. Cunningham expanded what is possible in dance.

From his earliest works to his last, Mr. Cunningham flouted convention, embracing the unknown and the unpredictable. For example, in "eyeSpace" (2006), the audience was loaned pre-loaded iPods and encouraged to shuffle the specially commissioned musical selections at will.

Even toward the end of his life, when he was physically frail, crippled by arthritis, and his cloud of white hair had thinned to a mist, Mr. Cunningham was a fierce modernist. His commitment to contemporary music led him in his last years to creative partnerships with the wildly popular British art-rock band Radiohead and the minimalist Icelandic band Sigur Ros, both of whom performed live at the premiere of "Split Sides" in 2003.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Phantom of the Opera Sequel on Broadway in 2010

Andrew Lloyd Webber recently announced Sierra Boggess from Broadway's The Little Mermaid will pair with Ramin Karimloo in the musical sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. The new show entitled, Phantom: Love Never Dies, that will hit London and Broadway stages in 2010. The story is based on the book by Ben Elton with songs by Webber and lyrics by Glenn Slater (who wrote songs for Mermaid). In the sequel the Phantom lures a married Christine away from "a broken-down" Raoul to New York City's Coney Island. Christine brings her teenage son, Gustave, with her.

As exciting as this sounds, I think a musical of Phantom's caliber can stand on its own for eternity without need of a sequel. I fear this might dilute some of its greatness.

I just don't think you can top this (video of original phantom cast):

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Choreographer Bausch dies aged 68"

Story from

German choreographer Pina Bausch, whose work is credited with revolutionising the language of modern dance, has died aged 68.

The Wuppertal Dance Theatre, where she served as director, said Bausch's "unexpectedly fast" death came five days after being diagnosed with cancer.

Bausch had been preparing to work on what was being called the first 3-D dance feature.

She last appeared on stage at Germany's Wuppertal Opera house on 21 June.

Bausch earned world renown for her avant-garde performances and choreographies mixing dance, sound and fragmented narrative.

She choreographed and staged her own pieces as well as performing in films by Federico Fellini and most recently, Pedro Almodovar's 2002 film Oscar-winner Talk To Her.

Born on 27 July, 1940 in Solingen, Germany, Bausch started her dance studies at the Folkwang School in Essen and trained at the Juilliard School of Music in New York.

She danced at the New American Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera in New York before returning to Germany in 1962 and later became the artistic director and choreographer of the newly founded Wuppertal dance-theatre company in 1973.

There she developed a wholly original body of work, creating a new form of dance theatre based on the German expressionist tradition.

She was known for her extravagant staging - in Nelken (1982), 21 dancers, four professional stunt men and four Alsatian dogs performed on a stage covered with thousands of pink carnations, while in Palermo, Palermo (1989) dancers picked their way through dust and debris.

Bausch crafted more than 30 productions for the company, many of which travelled the world from Europe to Asia and the United States.

The choreographer continued to perform as a dancer in her 60s, last visiting the UK in 2008, when she presented her seminal works, Cafe Muller and The Rite of Spring at London's Sadler's Wells.

Alistair Spalding, artistic director of Sadler's Wells, said: "She was an artist of the kind that the world is only blessed with from time to time.

"Her repertoire of works has inspired generations of audiences and artists with an impact that is hard to overestimate."

Bausch had been due to present a performance of the The Seven Deadly Sins at the Chekhov International Theatre Festival in Moscow this month.

She is survived by her husband Ronald and their son, Rolf. Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fame: the movie remake

Came across the Fame trailer today. The movie comes out Sept. 25.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Harry Potter Musical

Okay, all you Harry Potter fans, the Harry Potter Musical has arrived. You will laugh out loud throughout this entire performance. Here's what to expect: a tap dancing Voldemort, an overeating Ron, a slinking Draco, + Zack Efron + Quirrel's soulmate + great fun and songs. The show was directed, written and produced by Matt Lang and Nick Lang. And the best part is it can be viewed on YouTube. Check it out, you wont' be disappointed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Radiohead's "Romeo and Juliet"

"Romeo and Juliet" set to Radiohead? It's happening. Edward Clug's choreography will be performed by Slovenia's Ballet Maribor at Jacob's Pillow from July 1-5. Read more about the ballet here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Nine" The Musical

The musical "Nine" is coming to the big screen this November. My friend, Roberto, just brought this to my attention by writing about it in his blog. The movie, directed by Rob Marshall (director of "Chicago"), features an all-star cast with actors such as Sophia Loren, Daniel Day-Lewis, Nicole Kidman (who I thought had quite acting?), Fergie and Kate Hudson. Read more about it by clicking the link above and watching this trailer. 

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another Show to Look Forward to This Week: FOX's "Glee"

I've been waiting for a musical TV series and it has finally arrived. No more waiting for the musical episodes of Scrubs to come on. This series has singing and dance in every episode. The new FOX show "Glee" follows the story of a high school glee club and brings some of Broadway's best actors to TV. The show stars the fabulous Leah Michele from Spring Awakening and features guest artists like Kristin Chenoweth from Wicked.  And, I recently discovered one of the creators of the show graduated from James Madison University's School of Media Arts and Design, just like me. So a big shout out to a fellow SMADie, Chad. 

Following American Idol on Tuesday night, FOX will show a preview episode of "Glee", which officially will begin in the fall. If you want to learn more about the story line check out the extended trailer below. Or watch this video to hear from the producers/creators. If you still aren't convinced, just wait until they start singing "Don't Stop Believin'". What is it about that song? I always smile when I hear it. I'm hoping I will have the same reaction to each episode of "Glee".

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Final 3 Celebrities on Dancing With The Stars

We're five days away from announcing the winner of Dancing With The Stars season 8. In my first analysis of this season, I predicted Shawn and Mark would win the competition. But since that first night my top two have shifted to Melissa and Gilles, with Gilles winning the competition.

Don't get me wrong, I think Shawn is a lovely dancer, but she doesn't have the great performance quality found in Melissa and Gilles. She also is less graceful in her movement, which is understandable considering her gymnastics training. 

So why Melissa? Despite the fact that Tony dilutes his choreography with the same front leg extension in every piece, he mostly creates fine pieces that work well to Melissa's strength. He showcases her fearlessness when it comes to tricks, her fluidity, flexibility and strong turns. She also was taught, presumably in her Dallas Cowboys cheerleader training, how to maintain an engaging face throughout a performance, which helps makes the pieces exciting to watch. 

So why will Gilles beat Melissa? Well, because he has had no previous dance training, unlike Melissa, and yet he can do everything that she can do. He also has Cheryl as a partner and their chemistry is a step above any other couple in the competition. The fact that he's gorgeous, French and a family man might also help boost his voting base. 

But we'll all have to stay tuned to ABC on Monday and Tuesday to see if my guesses are correct. So, enjoy next week. I'll be with you flipping between DWTS and American Idol on Tuesday night. 

(photo from AP Photos/Getty Images, found at ABCNews)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ty's Saved From Elimination on Dancing With The Stars

I guess Ty's solo impressed more than just Jewel on Monday night because 'Lil Kim was the next celebrity to be eliminated from Dancing With The Stars

According to the judges, Ty should have been the next celebrity to leave the show, after he received a score 6 points fewer than 'Lil. Ty and partner Chelsie were surprised when the results were announced, along with the audience who booed the outcome. 

But, unless the group who votes for the worst celebrity has a larger following this year, we should see Ty go home next week. As much as I love his positive attitude, sweet personality and determination, those things can only get you so far in a dancing competition. We have to judge technique and performance quality (the thing he needs to work on most) at some point and it better be in the semi-finals. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Written and produced during the 2007 WGA writer's strike, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a 45 minute musical that has circulated the Web since July 2008. I finally had the chance to watch it yesterday after many requests from my sister who has been telling me to view it for about 6 months. I should have listened to her sooner. 

During a time when money is tight and audiences are looking for cheap ways to escape, this Web musical is just what we need. The fact that it's well written, sung, acted and produced is simply a bonus. And did I mention it is hysterical? Absolutely, laugh-out-loud fun. 

According to writer, Joss Whedon (best known for TV shows such as Dollhouse and Buffy), the musical is about a “low-rent super-villain, the hero who keeps beating him up, and the cute girl from the laundromat he’s too shy to talk to.” It stars Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day

The musical gained so much attention that a Web sequel, or even feature film, is being

You can watch Dr. Horrible for free at Trust me, you'll love it .

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dancing With the Stars...Melissa is Safe

Thank goodness Melissa is safe. Chuck should have said goodbye to this competition weeks ago. 

And here's the fun tango number that won over the judges, even though I really liked team mambo. Come on, you can't beat Mark in tights! 

Monday, April 20, 2009

The 1960s Group Routine on Dancing With The Stars

It's Monday night and I just chassed onto my couch to watch the 1960's group routine on Dancing With The Stars. We also get to see what the partners designed for our celebrities' costumes tonight. 

Melissa met up with Terry Hatcher from Desperate Housewives to help bring out her inner man eater. She looked wonderful tonight in her red and black outfit that Tony designed for her. She has great long legs and the fancy footwork definitely helped show them off. Beautiful lifts as well, you can tell she has great trust in Tony. I don't know if I would call her expressions necessarily man-eater quality, it was more just sexy. But I loved it. Nice way to start off the evening.
Scores: 10, 9, 10

Lawrence had a tough week traveling around to Miami and learning two dances. He designed a long, royal blue coat for Edyta that was rather pretty. Lets see if what is underneath matches--it's a gorgeous, flowing dress with multiple shades of blue. Carrie Ann called the dress "beautiful." But at one point the sleeve became caught on Edyta's head. As for the dancing, I never see much chemistry between the two and there were a few missteps in the waltz.  Len commented that Lawrence was off balance when he took off her coat and Bruno thought Lawrence looked uncomfortable with his turns.  
Scores: 7, 7, 7

Lil' Kim performs the rumba this week and Derek tries to tone down her sexiness. I think he's one of the best choreographers on the show and he was having a hard time, second-guessing his choreography in rehearsal. When they performed it looks like he over thought it. They stayed in one place the entire time instead of moving throughout the space. Unfortunately, toning down the sexiness didn't work either. The judges thought she was second guessing her character throughout the performance. Derek didn't look pleased with the judges comments, he was looking off into the audience and rolling his eyes. Lil's costume looked like a loose, sheer towel wrapped over a pink bathing suite. Not a good night for these two. But hey, the scores are still high.
Scores: 9, 8, 9 

Chuck and Julianne performed the samba in what looks like red silk pajamas on him. Although his hands definitely still needs work, he looks much improved from other weeks. Julianne needs to continue focusing on his technique and he could last another week. The judges saw the improvement too, Carrie Ann even did a little dance for him and gave him a kiss. They're hoping Alabama saves them from elimination. Oh my, they beat Lil' Kim with their scores. 
Scores: 9, 9, 9

Ty and Chelsie try to find romance on the dance floor with the waltz. Jewel came into rehearsal to help them find that connection. He definitely looks better holding onto his partner than he does when they are separated from each other. He's a ballroom guy. You can tell from the way he holds her that he's a gentleman and a sweet person. Bruno said after this performance that Ty's "back in the game." 
Scores: 8, 8, 8

Shawn and Mark had a rough week because Shawn had two awards to accept and she had to learn the group dance by herself. But these two work well under pressure. Even though she's had limited rehearsal time Shawn looks confident and cute. Loved the Michael Jackson moves! Carrie Ann said they brought the dance to life tonight. Len thoughts she found the rhythm of the cha cha. And...a 10 from Bruno! Her first of many 10s I would think.
Scores: 9, 9, 10

Gilles and Cheryl try to reclaim their top spot in the competition after dropping to 3rd place last week. Gilles goes to a synchronized swimming coach to find the fluidity in the movement. Let's put Gilles in a bathing suite more often on this show shall we! It will keep up the ratings. He looks like James Bond and she looks like Belle from Beauty and the Beast in her yellow gown. Their movement and chemistry is lovely, but this is not their best piece. 
Scores: 9, 9, 9

Okay, the big group number is up next. Lets compare these performers side by side. Since Shawn couldn't be at rehearsal, Mark brought a cutout of her to move across the floor. Christopher Perry choreographed the piece. Christopher separated the partners and the celebrities had to dance by themselves unlike in other seasons. The pairs did get to choreograph their own '60s moves for the piece though. Ty's bucking bull move with Chelsie particularly is amusing. 
Quick thoughts throughout piece:
-Lill Kim looks awkward up on the stand
-Poor Ty got out of sync with the other men in the straight line
-I like Melissa's Wilma Flinstone outfit
-Wow Melissa's death drop move was crazy-great lifts tonight from these two

Fun finish to the evening! Who will be kicked off? Probably, Lawrence. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring Awakening Fit For The Big Screen?

I knew this was coming: Spring Awakening the movie. 

McG has big-screen 'Spring Awakening'

McG is in talks to bring the Broadway rock musical "Spring Awakening" to the big screen, developing it with original book and lyrics writer Steven Sater. 

McG is attached to direct and would act as a producer. 

The project is not yet set up at a studio, though McG's Wonderland Sound and Vision has a first-look deal with Warner Bros. McG may opt not to go the studio route in order to make a more intimate, or indeed an edgier, movie version. 

Set in 19th-century Germany, the coming-of-age story follows a group of teens discovering their sexuality and dealing with high-wire topics like masturbation, abortion, rape and suicide. 

Sater and rocker Duncan Sheik based the musical on an 1891 German play and their resulting work resulted in a runaway Broadway success. The tuner won Tonys for best musical, best book, best original score and best actor.

McG, who is in post on the tentpole "Terminator Salvation," is not that odd a choice to helm a the film adaptation: The director got his start in the music business, first as a songwriter (he produced Sugar Ray's first album and co-wrote songs on the second) then as a video director.He also has kept one toe in the teen pool by exec producing such youth-centric shows as "The O.C.," "Chuck" and the upcoming drama school-set pilot "Limelight."

Sater, who shares the movie rights with Sheik and the stage producers of "Awakening," is repped by CAA, while McG is repped by Endeavor and Management 360.

Monday, April 13, 2009

How Many More 10s Will Be Distributed Tonight on DWTS?

New York Daily News writer, Cristina Kinon, said Sunday, "It has become way too easy for the celebs and their professional dance partners to score a perfect 10 on the popular ABC competition show [Dancing With The Stars], and it is dragging down the excitement of the program." Lets see if they continue this trend tonight.

The show begins with the stiff Ty Murray performing the Jive. Although he's really trying to jump, his feet aren't pointed, he's not flicking from the knee and his upper body moves awkwardly across the floor. Although the judges admire him for working hard and trying, they criticized him for getting out of sync with the music and Chelsie Hightower and for his lacking footwork. 
Score: 6, 6, 6. 
So what should this score really be, considering the curve the judges give all contestants? Probably around a 3. I wonder if Kinon agrees?

Shawn Johnson is up next with the rumba. She's wearing white again, I guess emphasizing her 17-year-old purity. Mark Ballas (too adorable) put together a prom set for her during rehearsal. Okay, a little bit awkward with the poses at the beginning. She has great sultry facial expressions. There doesn't seem to be a lot of footwork in this piece, a lot of posing though. Carrie Ann said she could tell Shawn was uncomfortable. Len thought the dance was "just right" in terms of how much sexiness was brought in. "Age appropriate" is what Mark called it.
Scores: 8, 8, 8
What the scores should be: 6s

Lawrence Taylor tries to escape being in the bottom two this week with the jive. He mission is to try and have fun, which he can't seem to show when he's learning in rehearsal. Unfortunately, he's so tall that he appears to be looking down all the time. Carrie Ann says, "you've brought your groove back." Len likes the basic movement of the piece, but thinks he could be lighter on his feet. I don't think the performance was that great, it had little energy and his happy face went in and out throughout the performance.
Scores: 7, 7, 8 (WAY TOO HIGH)
What the scores should be: 4s

Melissa Rycroft takes on the romantic rumba. She seems to have ease learning the piece. Lets see how it turned out. She appears a tad off to me tonight, like she did last week. Or maybe its just the awkward transitions between the movement and its not her fault. It lacked fluidity. But, the judges liked it. Bruno said it looked "effortless." In the future, he wants to see "Melissa the man eater." 
Scores: 9, 9, 9
What the scores should be: 7s  

Lil' Kim gets into a 50s character for the jive. Jailhouse rock, how ironic for her. Ha, love Derek's hair. Oh no, she messed up during the kicking section. But still a fun number. Derek really knows how to choreograph. The judges loved it, except Len thought it lacked jive movement and it was more of a theatrical performance. Most people on Twitter as of 9pm agree with Len and question whether any of the judges noticed the forgotten steps. 
Scores: 10, 8, 10
What the scores should be: 8s (Len was right--my Twitter friends agree)

Steve-O tries to be romantic in the brother-sister relationship he has with Lacey. I just hate the lack of fluidity in everyone's rumba. Steve-O always ends up walking around the floor. Carrie Ann "was totally taken in." She found him vulnerable and a lot better from last week. But Len says its "no good," and he's right again. "You have the charm of a confused puppy," said Bruno, what a perfect line.
Scores: 7, 4, 5
What the scores should be: 3s
According to @peoplemag, Lacey's mom was giving Len a hard time after the scores. 

The best of the best, Gilles Marini, is up next with the jive. Gilles' having a hard time with the choreography of the jive, at least at rehearsal. I'm sure he'll get it during performance. Now here's a guy who has the upper and lower body in sync. He can not go wrong. Cheryl is amazing. Now, that's a great performance! Len says Gilles messed up and the whole thing was too frantic. Bruno liked it but thought Gilles loses the strength in his kicks because the footwork was fast.
Scores: 9, 8, 9
What the scores should be: 9s

Chuck and Julianne try to show their love connection on the floor with the rumba. I thought they were a tad too forceful with each other throughout the whole thing. Bruno says, he "switched on the raunch factor." Carrie Ann was floored with the sexiness, while Len thought it was too much. But he still doesn't have the technique of most of the dancers, so he should get lower scores for that. 
Scores: 8, 7, 8
What the scores should be: 6s 

So, do you think the scores are inflated? I thought Len was pretty on with his scores tonight.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Gilles Goes for the Kill on Dancing With The Stars

Just like on this season's American Idol with Adam Lambert, Dancing With The Stars has developed a winner early on.

Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke just can't go wrong.

Do they really have any competition? I doubt any of the couples, even our beloved Melissa, can beat him. The only thing he has to work on our his hands. He has to bring the powerful quality of movement he uses so well with his lower extremities to his upper body. But, when you have performance quality like he does, who even cares!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance Promo

May 21, 2009--The 5th Season of So You Think You Can Dance Begins.

Here's the new promo video with commentary from the judges and Cat Deeley.

How much do the celebrities on Dancing With the Stars make? More than most reality TV personalities.

Initial Payout: $125,000
Salary: Between $10,000 and $50,000 per week
Grand Prize: A disco-ball trophy and renewed cultural relevance

View comparisons of reality TV salaries in the latest Entertainment Weekly article written by Lynette Rice.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bill T. Jones' A Quarreling Pair at The Kennedy Center Next Week

Bill T. Jones' is my favorite choreographer. And I know this even after only seeing his company perform live twice. The strength, concentration and determination of his dancers is beyond comparison to any other group. His theatrical, multi-media work, such as "Chapel/Chapter", drives me to tears. 

Next week, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company will perform "A Quarreling Pair" at The Kennedy Center on March 24 and 25 at 8pm. He also will hold a master class on March 23 at 7pm. 

Here is the information about the company and the performance from The Kennedy Center's Website:

Founded in 1982, the company that emerged from a longtime collaboration between Bill T. Jones and his late partner Arnie Zane brings together movement, music, and the spoken word to articulate compelling perspectives on the major issues of our times. The singular style of Bill T. Jones, the 2007 Tony Award winner for Choreography for the musical Spring Awakening, is instantly recognizable: Provocative partnering and body juxtapositions. Arms and legs propelled with explosive energy. Soaring leaps and daring lifts.

Nearly four years after its last full engagement at the Kennedy Center, his Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company performs
A Quarreling Pair, which the New York Times calls "a funny, almost painfully tender theater-dance piece." The work is the result of Bill T. Jones's 15-year fascination with Jane Bowles's four-page puppet play of the same name. In this hour-long production, Jones begins with the apparently simple story of two sisters: Rhoda, a depressed and tired introvert, and the pragmatic and self-contented Harriet. Jones uses these interconnected polar opposites as a point of departure for a multi-layered theatrical rumination on the question: "is temperament destiny?" 

If you have not seen this captivating company perform, I promise you will be amazed if you go. 
Hope to see you there! 

PS: Bill is on Twitter. 
Want to read other posts about Bill T. Jones?  Click here. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Kennedy Center Arts in Crisis Webinar: "Marketing in DIfficult Times"

Tomorrow from 10-11amEST, I'll be listening to The Kennedy Center's VP of Marketing and Sales David Kitto discuss marketing for the arts during these challenging economic times. 

Check it out: 

Marketing in Challenging Times

Online chat Hosted by:  David Kitto, Vice President of Marketing and Sales, The Kennedy Center

Friday, March 20, 2009

10:00 AM – 11:00 AM EST

Arts in Crisis organizations and mentors can discuss their marketing questions live with David Kitto. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dancing With the Stars Season 8, Week 2

Believe it or not, Fox News has a detailed post of last night's DWTS.

I'm glad to see Belinda Carlisle go home. Her performance last night didn't look full out at all. Plus, she doesn't have the personality or celebrity factor of the other contestants to really compete. 

And, does anyone know why Lacey Schwimmer looks so irritated all the time? She's got to lighten up and show us her fun side. I don't care how bad your partner is, we don't want to watch a pouty face all night long. She needs some lessons from her brother, Benji. 

Besides the cute cowboy, Ty, and Gilles, I was rather bored with the entire event. DWTS needs some frivolity and powerful performances in the next weeks to keep my attention. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Live Blogging, No Inhibitions: Dancing With the Stars, Season 8, Day 1

I'm excited to see our poor jilted bachelorette on the show. Kick it Melissa! You deserve so much better than the the Dancing With The Stars shiny trophy!  

Kim and Derek: She looks good, nice legs and nice performance quality. I found that rather impressive for the first go. Refinement is key here, she needs to overcome the tough, rap quality and soften throughout her body. I can not believe she's promoting her time spent at the detention center by dedicating her performance to the girls there. She needs a new image and publicist. 

BRUNO! I've miss you. So happy to see the judges looking healthy and happy.

Lets see what Belinda has to offer.  She looks refined, even though a little awkward. Not light on her feet at all. Ohhh very strange front arabesque promenade....oh my. Jonathan put in too many turns for her this time. You could tell she was nervous, and it had to do with the choreography. Yes, Bruno's right, very heavy footwork. 

Lawrence...don't feel uncoordinated. Take some ballet like other football players. All people who play sports should take ballet. Aww...what a cutie. He needs to loosen up and stop looking down, but definitely has potential. Unfortunately, most of it looked like Edyta was simply dancing around him...we've all seen that before. 

Steve-O time. Perfect pair. Talk about redefining your image in front of the world. Jackass to gentlemen...lets see. So mechanical in his movement. Worse so far. Its too bad Lacey won't be on the show for too long because she's great. Okay...he's gone just b/c of his line..."Wants to put my foot in the waltzes butt." Blah. bye bye Steve-O. 

Gilles...I already love you. Adorable. Please be able to dance! He's got the performance quality down. Nice. Love the faces he makes. Oh man he's a natural...smooth. Love it! My favorite...and it's not just because he's hot! :~) YEAH

It's cute that they paired Julianne with Chuck (girlfriend/boyfriend)...but I hope this doesn't hurt their relationship in the long run. It's difficult working with your partner. What a cheesy smile he gave while he dipped her! But he looks light on his feet and rather graceful. Awww. She looks like Grace Kelly--gorgeous.  I think we'll see more of them.

Holly and Dmitry. She's definitely winging it. This is beyond awkward. She's more walking than dancing. I feel bad she only had five days to practice, but there's just no initial dancing talent there. 

YEAH! GO MELISSA GO!!! I really, truly want her to succeed at this!

Okay, but we must watch Ty first. How cute, it's Chelsie! I had no idea she would be on this show.  It's my So You Think You Can Dance chica with her cute cowboy. Go cowboy go! He looks nervous, but he's grooving. Loosen up cowboy and you'd get it. He'll be here for another week, despite the hands mess up. 

Okay, here is who I expect to's Shawn. Emotion is weakness? Really, that's what they teach in gymnastics? Come on Shawn. You can tell she has grace but does hit the hand movements like a gymnast...a little too hard. I Can't wait to see more from her! Love the pairing between her and Mark. 

Its the Apple dude, Steve. You can tell from the video he's going to need a lot of work. Nerds Can Dance? Maybe. Oh a pink boa. Yikes. This is how you dance around someone.  As Bruno said, "It was like watching a Teletubby going mad." But he stays positive, good attitude Steve. 

Next...David Alan Grier--"Fightin' Dirty" with a waltz. He's rather graceful. Too stiff in the arms, but pleasant to watch. Opps stumble, spoke too soon. It went worse at the end, but he did a decent job. The judges are right...the faces need to be tamed. 

Has Glen seemed more forgiving with his scores than normal? I think so. 

Max and Denise. He's just pulling her around the floor, which is a lot better to watch then when she's on her own. Unfortunately, she has no sense of rhythm. Carry Anne is right...she did look scared. I would be too with a tough guy as a partner. 

Alright, Melissa I'm ready, please be able to dance! THAT"S RIGHT "Two Words Jason, People Skills." Ahh she's good, very graceful. Lovely attitude turn. I knew it Melissa, the cheerleader can turn dancer. You can tell she's good by her arms.  Hurray!

My 1st Week Guesses:
-Who Will Win: Shawn
-Who Will Go Home: Steve-O

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dance in Musicals: Part 6—Bob Fosse & The Modern Musical

Where have I been? I started a new job last month and have been working 10 hour days, so it has become difficult to find time to write. But with the start of Dancing With The Stars tomorrow and slowly getting used to my new schedule, I hopefully will be finding more time to blog.

Dance in Musicals: Part 6—Bob Fossee & The Modern Musical

Bob Fosse started in vaudeville and later became a ballroom dancer in nightclubs. He was featured in MGM films such as Kiss Me Kate (1953). When he returned to the stage as a choreographer, he won recognition for his work in Abbott's The Pajama Game (1956) and Damn Yankees (1957), for which he won a Tony. His choreography thrived with sexuality, putting an edge into these musicals. He created much of his choreography for his third wife, Gwen Verdon who was the prototypical “Fosse dancer,” long, limber and sexy. For Pippin (1972), Fosse won Tonys for both choreography and direction. On film, Fosse directed three musicals: Sweet Charity (1968), the Academy Award winning Cabaret (1972) and All That Jazz (1979). In 1972, he became the only person in history to win a Tony, Emmy and Academy Award in the same year. In 1975, he appeared with Chicago, one of the best concept musicals, which was overshadowed on stage by A Chorus Line. However, the show was rediscovered on Broadway in 1996, and on film in 2002 (Kenrick, “Dance in Stage Musicals”).

In 1978, Dancin’ appeared as an all-dance hit. Without a script, this show was an evening-length series of unrelated dance sequences that relied on a non-theatrical musical score. After its success on Broadway, small companies found it hard to recreate the demanding choreography and the show never reopened (Kenrick, “History of The Musical Stage 1970s”).

Cats (1982) was the only British-born musical of the time that stressed dance. Gillian Lynne’s feline choreography used acrobatics and gesture that complimented Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score. The musical, based off of T.S. Eliot’s Book of Practical Cats, packed in audiences in London and New York (Kenrick, “Dance in Stage Musicals”).

Tommy Tune countered traditional musical “razzmatazz” from the history of American entertainment with his own energy and surprises (Everett 211). For Grand Hotel (1989) and The Will Rogers Follies (1991) he won Tonys for direction and choreography. Over his successful career, he won nine Tonys for acting, choreography and direction.

The first original dance show to win a Tony for Best Musical was Contact (2000). Choreographed and directed by Susan Stroman, the show was divided into three dance pieces set to pre-recorded classical and popular music. Stroman’s inventive use of props in choreography, while maintaining the show’s dramatic integrity, is her trademark, inspired by her idol Fred Astaire (Kenrick, “Who's Who in Musicals”). Her next smash hit was The Producers in 2001, for which she again won Tonys for direction and choreography, making her the only person to ever win this combination of Tonys two years in a row.

On screen, Moulin Rouge (2001) used the MTV music video style to create a spectacle musical. It used rapid editing styles and accelerated camera motion to create a blur of can-can and tango dance sequences.

In 2002, Chicago hit the screen and was the first musical to win the Academy Award for Best Picture in 35 years (Kenrick, “Dance in Screen Musicals”). Choreographed by Rob Marshall, the large ensemble dance sequences continued the trend of quick on screen edits, making it hard to distinguish the amateur dancers from the veterans.

That same year, Twyla Tharpe’s Movin’ Out was another dance musical, with music by Billy Joel. “Movin’ Out mixes up a heavy combination of rock concert and ballet performance,” said Terry Byrne of the Boston Harold in 2005 (News Reviews). Tharpe, of the modern company Twyla Tharpe Dance, is known for making technically demanding choreography audience-friendly. She won a Tony for her athletic choreography in Movin Out.

In 2004, director Joel Schumacher and producer Webber brought the musical Phantom of the Opera to film for the third time. Choreography was by Lynne, who is best known for the development of British jazz dance and her work on Cats. Using fans, masks and a large staircase, Lynne smoothly blended ballroom dance and gesture phrases to Webber’s song “Masquerade” to create a stunning affect. However, the film could not top the show in theaters on Broadway and in London. The musical holds the record as the highest-grossing entertainment event of all time, grossing $3.2 billion worldwide (“The Phantom of the Opera”).
Today, Lynne continues work on Broadway with musicals such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (2005). 

Musical theater continues to attract the attention of families looking for an escape. Although the golden golden age of musicals has ended, a new period of fast-paced, MTV-style, accelerated motion musical films is beginning. With these musicals comes an increasing demand for athletic and technical dance.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dance in Musicals: Part 5—The Concept Musical

The History of Dance in Musicals continues...

Michael Bennett started his Broadway career as a chorus dancer. He delved into choreography with five shows, for which he earned Tony nominations: A Joyful Noise (1966); Henry Sweet Henry (1967); Promises, Promises (1968); Coco (1969) and Company (1970). In 1971, he finally won two Tonys for his choreography and co-direction in Follies (1971), a musical about aging performers.

Working with interviews from Broadway chorus dancers, Bennett created a libretto with Nicolas Dante and James Kirkwood to create the concept musical A Chorus Line (1975). Concept musicals were built around an idea rather than a traditional plot. The concept of this musical was based on a Broadway chorus audition, with a director who asks the dancers to share their stories to be hired. The musical featured ensemble numbers with tight formations, kick lines, mirrors and sparking gold costumes. Bennett used “cinematic staging” or “jump-cutting” in his choreography that shifted the audience’s attention from one figure to another. The musical was a success that appealed to all ages and musical tastes, winning nine Tonys and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (Kenrick, “Michael Bennett's A Chorus Line”).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dance in Musicals: Part 4—Gower Champion

Dance in Musicals: Part 4—Gower Champion

Dance became a minor element in the decreasing number of musicals on film in the 1960s. The few exceptions included the ensemble work by March Breaux and Dee Dee Wood in Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins (1964). The movie blended the plot with songs, dance and animated characters, winning five Academy Awards (Kenrick, “Dance in Screen Musicals”). Onna White, a Broadway choreographer, preserved her stage dances on screen in The Music Man (1962) and later created ensemble work for Oliver (1969).

On stage, Gower Champion became a leading choreographer. Champion, started his dancing career with Jeanne Turner in nightclubs and Broadway revues, where they combined energetic ballroom dancing with show dancing. After serving in World War I, Champion formed a partnership with Marjorie Bell and became popular on stage and in television, appearing in Showboat (1951) together. With his unconventional training in ballroom, he choreographed musical numbers with a fresh look, integrating every prop, set and performer with song and motion. His direction and fast-paced choreography, which emphasized a youthful spirit in Bye Bye Birdie (1960), won him two Tony Awards. He followed this with another hit, Hello Dolly (1964), for which he again won two Tonys. 

Labanotation, a form of dance notation, was used to preserve Champion’s choreography on paper during the staging of Bye Bye Birdie. He ignored a diagnosis of terminal cancer to create his final musical, 42nd Street (1980), which contained intricate tap numbers, and died before the opening performance. The show was his longest running hit and he received a posthumous Tony for his choreography (Kenrick, “Who's Who in Musicals”).

Monday, February 9, 2009

And the Celebrities Are...

Here are the celebrities performing on Dancing With the Stars this season. Celebrities include Jewel, Shawn Johnson, Nancy O'Dell and Lil' Kim among others. The new season starts March 9. 

Friday, February 6, 2009

Dance in Musicals: Part 3—Musicals Head to Hollywood

I'm in the hospital in Florida with my 97-year-old Grandfather. (He should be out of here in the next few days.) While I watch him sleep, I thought I'd add the next post in the Dance in Musicals series.

Part 3: Musicals Head to Hollywood

The 1950s would see more Broadway shows turn into Hollywood musicals. Broadway choreographers received opportunities to recreate their stage dances for the big screen. Such musicals included: Oklahoma, Carousel, The King and I and West Side Story.

Audiences who enjoyed old-fashioned Cinderella-stories were shocked by West Side Story, considered a modern Romeo and Juliet, with juvenile delinquents taking center stage. The plot and song lyrics infuriated some people who felt they reflected poor taste and showed a side of American life considered inappropriate for a musical (Laufe 222). Jerome Robbins proposed the idea for the book, written by Arthur Laurents, and was the show’s choreographer and director. The musical opened in New York in September 1957, with an unhappy ending and little humor. However, even those reviewers who were skeptical about the plot were impressed with Robbins’ choreography. Finger snapping, lurching and leaping were new developments in the theater, which are now common on stage. Robbins expanded upon the athletic capabilities of male dancing first seen in Oklahoma. The choreography propelled the plot forward, some thought more than the score, written by Leonard Bernstein (Laufe 224-226).

In 1964, Robbins was director and choreographer for Fiddler on the Roof, one of his greatest hits. His choreography during the wedding celebration incorporated Jewish cultural traditions, while dancing with wine bottles balancing on their hats. After Fiddler, Robbins concentrated on creating works for the New York City Ballet and other companies (Kenrick, “Who's Who in Musicals”).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

07 CCTV9 Dance Competition Winners

I just came across this YouTube video of a piece that won first prize in a 2007 annual dance competition on CCTV9 International in Beijing. The amazing part is, it's performed by a young man who lost his leg as a child and a woman who lost her arm in a car accident. What a pair! 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dance in Musicals: Part 2—Dance = A Form of Acting

This is Part 2 of a series of posts called "Dance in Musicals." For more information check out Part 1

Part 2--Dance = A Form of Acting

In 1944,  On The Town used modern dance and song to tell the romantic adventures of three sailors on leave in New York City. Collaborating with George Abbot, Jerome Robbins, who started at New York’s Ballet Theatre, choreographed the musical. A character was the motivation for every step Robbins created. He was one of the first to consider dance a form of acting and mixed ballet, jazz and realistic movement in his choreography. He changed musicals forever by making dance as vital to the story-telling as the score (Kenrick, “History of Stage Musicals”). “In one startling night…and 436 subsequent performances, On the Town created and established the greatest of all American contributions to the stage arts: American theatre dance,” said Denny Flinn (qtd. in Everett 175).

When On the Town was turned into a film by MGM in 1949, Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra took leading roles. Kelly, formerly a Broadway hoofer, also choreographed the screen version. He had won dancing acclaim in the film Cover Girl (1944), produced by Columbia, by performing a series of dance pieces where he danced with his own reflection. He received such acclaim that MGM refused to loan him to other studios for future musicals. His athletic and dynamic choreography and performances combined ballet, tap, jazz, ballroom and gymnastics. This would lead him to collaborate with producer Arthur Freed to make some of the finest musicals ever created, such as Singin' in the Rain (1952), bringing on-screen dance to a new level of sophistication (Kenrick, “History of Stage Musicals”).

Toward the end of the decade, the last musical hit had little dance. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific (1949), a story of a military nurse who falls in love with a French planter, was directed by Josh Logan. Besides including little dance, there was more than one main love-story and dramatic tension was created by racial prejudices. However, it won the Tony for Best Musical and became the second musical to receive a Pulitzer Prize for Drama (Kenrick, “History of Stage Musicals”).            

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Emotional Intelligence in Dance and Business

Emotional Intelligence (EQ), as defined by Robert Cooper in Executive EQ: Emotional Intelligence in Leadership and Organization, is the ability to sense, understand and pass judgment on the emotions as a source of information and influence. It motivates us to pursue our potential and activate our desires. Cooper says, “the word emotion may be simply defined as applying ‘movement,’ either metaphorically or literally, to core feelings.”

This way of deriving movement from an emotion or attaching an emotion to a movement is of great interest to me. Dance allows performers to express their desires, values and aspirations in a healthy and physical way. With emotions attached to the performance, an underlying bond connects the audience to the performers and the work as a whole.  

This type of expression and understanding of EQ is important not only for dancers, but for all people −even those who work behind a desk all day. Exploring emotions through movement and understanding the underlying meaning has brought about EQ research in the business world. Understanding emotions though movement would help all business leaders recognize the emotions of their followers, allowing them to lead and react with the appropriate counter emotion. 

Unfortunately, taking dance class or even viewing dance performance that is thought and emotionally provoking is not of interest to today’s general society. Most people view art solely for the purpose of entertainment and escape. The challenge for choreographers today is to bridge a gap between entertainment and mind-engaging dance, to bring about a shift in the general dance-viewing audience.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dance in Musicals: Part 1—The First Musical

In elementary school, I developed the habit of routinely flipping to old movie channels in hopes of catching a glimpse of a musical with legends such as Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra or Judy Garland. After a day at school I would watch one of the classics, such as "Singing in the Rain" or "An American in Paris," enjoying the care-free characters and energetic dance numbers. Then I branched into the lesser known musicals like "Summer Stock" and "Follow the Fleet." Today, I would rather watch any of these classic films than most of the movies found in theaters. 

So, I thought I'd take a look at the evolution of dance in musicals on broadway and  film in a series of blog posts. Today, I start with dance in the 1940s and the beginnings of "the musical."  (A list of references is at the bottom of the post.) 

(And on a side note, check out Entertainment Weekly for information about Michael Jackson's new endeavor, "Thriller" the musical.) 

Part 1: The First Musical

Entertainment that provided an escape from reality was what performers sought for their audiences in the 1940s. America was still suffering from the aftermath of the Great Depression and the world was at war. This atmosphere created an ideal place for experimentation. The acceptance of innovation in theater was balanced with a greater appreciation for American life and history (Everett 139). The 1940s, with fantasy and drama, was acclaimed as the golden golden age for musicals.

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II met at Columbia University and agreed on the importance of writing the lyrics of a musical first so the integration of the songs and book would be easier. In this way, Hammerstein, the lyrics writer, did not have to follow the structure of music already composed (Lewis 35). They began working on a love story called Green Grow the Lilacs (based off the play by Lynn Riggs), which was set in the Okalahoma Territory during the early 1900s. After collaborating through character analysis, song placement, style, lighting, casting and staging, the two parted. Rodgers headed to his farm in upstate New York, while Hammerstein sought his farm in Pennsylvania. Hammerstein labored over the lyrics for weeks and then wired the results to Rodgers who could create melodies within minutes. Because the Theatre Guild was bankrupt, Rodgers and Hammerstein had complete creative control over the project. They took risks, such as writing lyrics in conversational style, starting the performance with a duet, instead of a large ensemble number and casting lesser-known actors as leads. Because it could not be classified as a musical comedy or operetta, the duo had created something new: a musical play with every element dedicated to moving the plot forward.

To deal with the emotions of the story, which might sound awkward if verbalized, the team decided to integrate dance as a key story-telling device. The choreographer would help move the story along. Choreographer Agnes DeMille, who choreographed the ballet Rodeo (1942), insisted on casting trained modern dancers in the chorus, therefore enriching the ensemble. She bridged the gap between choreography for ballet and Broadway, combining steps from square dancing, tap and ballet. She was also known for creating “dream ballets,” such as in Brigadoon (1947), which brought the audience into the thoughts of key characters.

Under the title Away We Go, the musical opened in March 1943, but Variety gave it a poor review: “No gags, no girls, no chance,” (qtd. in Everett 139). Worried investors sold shares in the show after that first performance. However, while the show played in Boston, Rodgers and Hammerstein made extensive revisions, including staging the chorus piece called “Oklahoma,” for which the show was now titled. Oklahoma opened at New York’s St. James Theatre on March 31, 1943 to roaring reviews and excited audiences, who enjoyed the all-American show during wartime. It became the first Broadway musical to record every major number on a full-cast and orchestra soundtrack. Running for more than six years, the show made millions of dollars and backers saw a 2,500 percent return on their investments (Kenrick, “History of Stage Musicals”).

Works Cited

Everett, Williams A., and Paul R. Laird, eds. The Cambridge Companion to the Musical. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

 Laufe, Abe. Broadway’s Greatest Musicals. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1973.

Lewis, David H. Broadway Musicals: A Hundred Year History. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2002.

“” 2006. Ed. Kenrick, John. 17 Feb. 2006.                                                                

“News Reviews.” 2006. Movin’ Out Tour. 8 April 2006.

“The Phantom of the Opera.” 2006. Wikepedia. 17 April 2006.        

Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Experimental Multimedia Event: "Club Midnight: Flesh into Light"

This weekend, Amy Greenfield, the award-winning director and producer of more than 30 films, combines video, photography and contemporary movement for a three-piece multimedia event, "Club Midnight: Flesh into Light," in New York. 

The event first showcases the expanded version of Greenfield's award-winning film "Club Midnight." The premiere of "Live Tides" follows, combining the on-stage presence of a nude performer with the new version of Greenfield's 1982 film, "Tides." Again integrating stage movement and film with music, the premiere of "Spirit in the Flesh" follows, based on the photography and book, Kabbalah, by Leonard Nimoy. The main character of this book is Shekhina, who is considered a "female power of creativity and healing." In his book, Nimoy writes, "I am intrigued with scriptural mythology that tells us that God created a divine feminine presence to dwell amongst humanity." 

"Club Midnight: Flesh into Light" will be at the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater, Symphony Space in New York on January 30 and 31. Visit Club Midnight for more information. For reservations visit the Symphony Space.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama's Inaguration Day: Great Day for the Nation. Hopefully, A Great Day for the Arts

I spent most of the day in front of the TV and online watching the historic inauguration of President Barack Obama. While our President has several difficult problems to attend to now, such as the economy and the war on terror, in the future he can focus on the arts. 

In October, I wrote about the differences between Obama and McCain's policies for the arts. Now, I am proud to highlight President Obama’s platform for the arts. The full two-page platform was drafted with the help of 33 arts leaders who make up the National Arts Policy Committee.

President Obama's Platform for the Arts 

-Expand Arts in Education by:

1) Increasing partnerships among schools and arts organizations by expanding resources provided to the Department of Education’s Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination Grants.

2) Creating an Artistic Corps of young artists trained to work in low-income communities, especially in schools.

3) Increase funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, which, over the past 17 years, has been reduced by $50 million.

-Promote Cultural Diplomacy by:

1) Promoting and expanding partnerships to increase cultural and artistic exchanges throughout the world. 

2) Using artistic ambassadors to help win wars by showcasing American ideals, as done during the Cold War.

3) Welcoming members of foreign arts communities to America to help eliminate barriers among nations and reduce hatred and fear.

-Ensure Affordable Health Care and Fair Taxes for Artists by:

1) Creating a new public program that allows individuals and small business to buy affordable health care.
2) Developing a National Health Insurance Exchange to reform private insurance.

3) Lowering the cost of health care for the average American family by up to $2,500 a year.

4) Supporting the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, which allows artists to deduct the market value of the their work on taxes when they contribute to charities.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Win a Dance Lesson with MC Hammer

You could win a dance lesson with MC Hammer or a cash prize by taping "Your Best Hammer Dance" and submitting it to DanceJam is a dance social network, founded by MC Hammer, where individuals watch and rate dance performances. Judges will consider creativity, dance skills, entertainment value and video popularity to announce the finalists on Feb. 5 and select the winners on Feb. 10. The finalist considered the “most skilled” wins the lesson, while the contestant with the “most entertaining” video wins $250 cash. 

Rules of the contest: 
-The video should be 20 to 90 seconds.
-You should perform any section of the MC Hammer dance to any MC Hammer song. 

About 22 videos have already been submitted. Check out the competition at

Friday, January 16, 2009

No Mambo for Cindy McCain

According to Page Six of The New York Post, Cindy McCain was approached in November to star on the next season of "Dancing With the Stars." While Cindy was enthusiastic about the offer--wanting to participate "very badly"--John was not, causing his wife ultimately to turn down the show this week.  

Other offers to perform have been made to Stevie Wonder, Steve-O from "Jackass" and Misty May-Treanor who left last season's show after an ankle injury. 

The next season of "Dancing With the Stars" starts Monday, March 9 at 8pm on ABC. 

Monday, January 12, 2009

Evolution of Dance 2

"Evolution of Dance" performer Judson Laipply released the sequel to one of the most watched videos on the Internet on Jan. 9. "Evolution of Dance 2" features everything from the Hokey Pokey to Soldier Boy. Check it out: 

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Superstars of Dance--What Were They Thinking?

So, I watched the new NBC show Superstars of Dance, and I have to ask, "What were they thinking?" We never needed another dance show, especially not one of poor quality.

I think Annie Barrett from Entertainment Weekly put it best when she described the show as "a forced SNL sketch." 

First of all, how can you judge so many styles of dance fairly? You can't. Most of these judges have probably never seen all of these styles, so they can't be compared sufficiently. 

Second, isn't it a tad self-serving how Michael Flatley (the show's host) featured his group, Lord of the Dance, for the first Irish group piece? Absolutely. And, unfortunately, it now features a soloist (who also performed by himself for Ireland) with no expression or smooth movement like Flatley himself. Not a great way to start off the show.

Third, why isn’t this a live show like the rest? Probably because there are too many performers to move on and off stage and too many set changes for a two hour production. But this makes the whole show appear awkward, especially in the way it is cut and filmed. While Argentina’s soloist performed a Cabaret piece that lacked in movement and concept, it didn’t help that the camera crew forgot to film her footwork. The crew keeps doing this throughout the show, sometimes cutting off the performers from view completely.

Fourth, shouldn’t this be more of a showcase of styles, rather than a competition? Yes! But NBC thinks it needs its own dance competition show like ABC and FOX.

I must admit, there were a few exceptions to the bad performances, including Austria’s modern group piece that featured strong ballet technique and ground-work, and China's athletic group piece. But besides these few pieces, I was not entertained, informed or able to stay awake. 

What did you think? Could anyone actually like this show?