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By Wendy Perron
Dance has returned to Broadway in a big way. First we had Anything Goes, with its unison tap number building toward a giddy pitch. Then we had Newsies, with a pack of leaping, somersaulting, à-la-seconde-turning young guys staging protests against a greedy publisher. Now we have Bring It On, directed and choreographed by the amazing Andy Blankenbuehler. This new musical is about a clash of cultures between a mostly white high school and a mostly black one that is brilliantly reflected in the dancing. Both sides are vivid, exuberant, and seemingly spontaneous. How did Andy Blankenbuehler create that effect?
Reading Sylviane Gold’s cover story, “In His Groove,” you might be surprised. Andy plans everything down to the smallest detail; he can spend hours reworking a single phrase. That urge to plan showed up in our photo shoot too. He had carefully mapped out all the positions he wanted to hit in front of the camera. But as the shoot picked up speed, we could see that the best-laid plans were also the best foundation for cutting loose—and Andy was soon dancing with his signature combination of joy and high style.
Dancing runs in families. That can sometimes spell trouble between siblings, so it’s nice when their familial bond overrules any potential rivalry. Just ask Robbie and Megan Fairchild at New York City Ballet, the Tilton brothers of Ballet West, or Simon Ball of Houston Ballet and April Ball of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo. For a candid, heart-warming story on dancing siblings, read Nancy Wozny’s “My Sister Got Promoted!”
I once performed wearing a hat that was about three feet tall—this was at P.S. 122, where pillars stand in the middle of the performance space. If I tipped my head an inch, my hat would hit a pillar two feet away and knock me off balance. So I know how tricky a difficult headpiece can be. Since this is our annual costume issue (see “Coast to Coast” in “DM Style”), we asked Lauren Kay to talk to four dancers who had way more treacherous experiences than mine. In her story “High Hats,” she gets their tips on coping with extreme headpieces. So...hats off to all dancers who cope with challenging costumes everywhere.
Hanging out with the man of many accessories. Photo by Matthew Karas.