Clare Halse Philip Bertioli in 42nd Street, Courtesy PBS

Catch 42nd Street, Kinky Boots and 3 Other Shows on PBS This Month

PBS' third annual "Broadway's Best" series starts tonight, and this year's edition is a treat for dance lovers. The 2019 lineup features five shows: three are Broadway musicals, one's a West End play and the fifth is a taping from The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park, with movement by a big-name choreographer.

Each Friday in November at 9 pm Eastern on PBS, you can experience a live taping of a different show—and the choreographic talents on display don't disappoint. (Pro tip: If you have the PBS Passport app, you don't have to wait a week between performances. Members can stream all five starting November 1.)

Here's what's airing:


42nd Street (November 1)

If your tap shoes have started to gather dust, 42nd Street is the musical that'll make you want to break them out again. This 2001 Tony-winning revival, making its U.S. broadcast premiere, features choreography by Randy Skinner.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I (November 8)

Catch the star-studded cast of the 2015 production of The King and I. Not only can you watch Kelli O'Hara and Ruthie Ann Miles in their Tony-winning turns (as Best Actress and Best Featured Actress, respectively) but this version is punctuated with Christopher Gattelli's choreography, based on the original by Jerome Robbins.

Red (November 15)

In 2010, the two-man play Red took home the Tony for Best Play. This 2018 West End revival—about an artist and his assistant—brings the show back to life.

Much Ado About Nothing (November 22)

Last summer's production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, filmed in Central Park, rocketed into the near future, updating its setting to 2020. And it has an additional cool factor: choreography by Camille A. Brown.

Kinky Boots (November 29)

The Jerry Mitchell directed-and-choreographed Kinky Boots is the perfect fit to round out PBS' "Broadway's Best." The celebratory, feel-good musical, with songs by Cyndi Lauper, will have you singing and dancing 'til year's end.

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020