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A "West Side Story" Movie Is in the Works. Here's What We Know So Far.
We'll admit it: When we peruse Broadway's offerings each season, sometimes we bemoan the lack of original stories being portrayed onstage. Songbook musicals, revivals, or shows based on existing TV series or films have become a stronghold (and often a sure bet) for Broadway producers. But when a good redux comes along—like this season's surprisingly delightful SpongeBob SquarePants, based on the TV show of the same name—we can appreciate that.
Now, the silver screen has come knocking on Broadway's door for the reverse scenario: film adaptations of smash stage musicals. It's certainly nothing new, but right now there's a deluge of musicals that have nascent Hollywood dreams. The process can take years (and many stories die along the way), but there are a few exciting movies in the pipeline that we think have a pretty good chance of succeeding.
Many musicals have rumored movie adaptations in the works, but these six have had the most recent status updates.
West Side Story
With Steven Spielberg directing and a screenplay by Tony Kushner, we bet this project has legs. Another good sign: The team recently put out a casting call for the leads of Tony, Maria, Bernardo and Anita.
Our biggest question: Who will choreograph? Since Jerome Robbins' moves are so iconic, we hope much of the original choreography is retained. Someone will likely be brought in to make changes—small or large. Might it be Joshua Bergasse, who put his spin on Robbins' choreo for On the Town? Or maybe Justin Peck, who's making his inaugural Broadway move with this spring's Carousel?
Georgina Pazcoguin brought balletic finesse to Victoria on Broadway. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy CATS.
Practical cats, dramatical cats, pragmatical cats, fanatical cats. With CATS fresh off a successful Broadway revival, why not make another movie featuring these dance-savvy felines? Andrew Lloyd Webber seems to be on board. Earlier this month we learned that the famous composer has penned a new song for inclusion in the supposed film remake. Good news for dancers: It's a song for Victoria, the most balletic cat of them all. We'd love to see her character expanded.
A scene from Disney's Aladdin on Broadway. Via Aladdin.
Although this Aladdin is based off the 1992 animated movie, of all the musicals gunning for the big screen, it's the furthest along in the process. It's currently in production with a release date set for May 24, 2019. Plus, Big-Willie-style is all over this movie. Yes, Will Smith is playing the Genie. Along with the original singalong-worthy tunes, expect additions from Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the award-winning duo behind Dear Evan Hansen and The Greatest Showman. Jamal Sims, of the Step Up franchise, is choreographing, so that hopefully means there will be plenty of dancing.
Come From Away
Come From Away continues to make waves on Broadway. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy Polk & Co.
Finally! An original Broadway story. Christopher Ashley, who's been with Come From Away since its inception at La Jolla Playhouse, plans to direct the adaptation of the current hit musical. Not much information is available at this time, but we're excited to follow this movie's development.
In the Heights
Washington Heights got a major shout-out in the Broadway musical. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy In the Heights.
We'd love to see this one happen. As of October, though, plans had stalled. Quiara Alegría Hudes (who co-authored the book with Lin-Manuel Miranda) called for the Weinstein Co. to release the film's rights in the wake of harassment claims against Harvey Weinstein. Earlier in the process, Jay Z had been named as a producer.
The 2009 West End production featured Matthew Bourne's choreography.
The classic musical might become a movie once again, but this time, with Ice Cube as the crooked Fagin, who runs a ring of child pickpocketers. Hamilton director Thomas Kail will direct, and way back in 2014, Matthew Bourne was mentioned as choreographer. Can you imagine the rich, fantastical numbers he'd create? Consider us sold.
Mash-ups aren't uncommon in the dance world: Performers of varying styles have been known to share the stage, from ballerina Tiler Peck and famed clown Bill Irwin to Michelle Dorrance, who's mixed tappers and break-dancers. Likewise, collaborations between choreographers and artists from seemingly mismatched disciplines have produced magical creations, such as Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream, featuring Mark Ryden's whimsical and even grotesque designs and costumes.
But the Israeli troupe Ka'et Contemporary Dance Ensemble has found success in one of the most unlikely partnerships: Secular contemporary choreographer Ronen Itzhaki creates movement for a group of rabbis.
While undoubtedly best known for her dancing, American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston has also been getting noticed for her style by Allure and Vogue—and with good reason. Her Instagram feed features a mix of on-trend athleisure wear and detailed dresses from runway designers like Valentino and Anna Sui, none of which would be complete without the makeup and hair to match. With a penchant for skin care and an ever-growing lipstick collection, Boylston talked us through some of her beauty must-haves on and off the stage.
Photo by Jayme Thornton
Before she became the 20th century's most revered ballet pedagogue, Agrippina Vaganova was a frustrated ballerina. "I was not progressing and that was a terrible thing to realize," she wrote in a rough draft of her memoirs.
She retired from the Imperial Ballet stage in 1916, and for the next 30-plus years, devoted herself to creating a "science of ballet." Her new, dynamic teaching method produced stars like Rudolf Nureyev, Alla Osipenko, and Galina Ulanova and later Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov. And her approach continues to influence how we think about ballet training to this day.
But is the ballet class due for an update? Demands and aesthetics have changed. So should the way dancers train change too?
For many dancers, a "warmup" consists of sitting on the floor stretching their legs in various positions. But this strategy only reduces your muscles' ability to work properly—it negatively affects your strength, endurance, balance and speed for up to an hour.
Save your flexibility training for the end of the day. Instead, follow a warmup that will actually help prevent injury and improve your body's performance.
According to the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, a smart warmup has four parts: "a gentle pulse-raising section, a joint mobilization section, a muscle lengthening section and a strength/balance building section."
DanceBreak came roaring back to life on Monday after seven years on hiatus, and six choreographers now have the opportunity to be the next Andy Blankenbuehler. Or Joshua Bergasse, Kelly Devine, Casey Nicholaw, Josh Prince or Josh Rhodes. These stellar Broadway choreographers all got their first big shows after Melinda Atwood's musical-theater launching pad let them show the industry what they could do.
Since 2002, DanceBreak has been a sort of "So You Think You Can Choreograph" for Broadway. Although not everyone goes straight there—Mandy Moore and Mia Michaels are alumni, too—the program is meant to funnel talented choreographers to the Broadway stage by providing a platform for their work. Prince, who introduced Atwood to the cheering crowd, has paid DanceBreak the ultimate compliment, creating his own non-profit incubator for theater choreographers, Broadway Dance Lab. On Monday, he recalled the story of how he was offered the role of choreographer on Broadway's Shrek just days after its director saw the 2007 edition.
When caring for your feet or trying to make them look good, it's tempting to seek shortcuts. Bad ideas—like dangerous stretches that promise perfect lines or ointments that were never meant to go on your toes—catch on all too easily backstage.
We asked podiatrists who've seen their dance clients try it all share the habits they'd like to see gone for good.
My dance coach wants my word that I'll keep competing under his school's name for the next year and not audition. I'm 18 years old and already doing lead roles and winning medals. I love his teaching, but shouldn't I be ready to go out and get a job?
—Gil, Las Vegas, NV
How do we make ballet, a traditionally homogeneous art form, relevant to and reflective of an increasingly diverse and globalized era? While established companies are shifting slowly, Richard Siegal/Ballet of Difference, though less than 2 years old, has something of a head start. The guiding force of the company, which is based in Germany, is bringing differences together in the same room and, ultimately, on the same stage.
Claude Debussy's only completed opera, Pelléas et Mélisande, emphasizes clarity and subtlety over high-flung drama as a deadly love triangle unfolds. Opera Vlaanderen and Royal Ballet of Flanders are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the composer's death with a new production of the landmark opera that is sure to be anything but traditional: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet are choreographing and directing, while boundary-pushing performance artist Marina Abramović collaborates on the design. Antwerp, Feb. 2–13. Ghent, Feb. 23–March 4. operaballet.be/en.
Black History Month offers a time to reflect on the artists who have shaped the dance field as we know it today. But equally important is celebrating the black artists who represent the next generation. These seven up-and-comers are making waves across all kinds of styles and across the country: