A Blair Witchâ€“Style Dance Movie?
Here's some unexpected news: Screenwriter John Swetnam—the writer behind the fifth Step Up installment, Step Up: All In—is joining forces with none other than singer John Legend to create a new dance movie, Breaking Through. As unusual as that pairing seems, there's an even more unusual twist: Breaking Through is being called the world's first "found footage" dance film.
Right: John Swetnam. Photo via Mad Horse Films.
The faux-documentary found footage style is more commonly used in horror films—The Blair Witch Project pioneered the genre back in 1999—because the shaky, bleary quality of its supposedly amateur cinematography doubles the shock value of terrifying discoveries. But in a way it makes good sense to use it to capture dance. The majority of the dance films swirling around on YouTube are shot on phones and tablets; it's the way many dancers are used to watching dance. And there's an intimacy to the format that might bring dance and dancers to life in a way that high-gloss Hollywood dance films don't.
In addition to his Step Up experience, Swetnam has also worked on a couple of found-footage-driven films (Evidence and the upcoming Into the Storm). So if there's any man for this job, he's it. No word yet on Breaking Through's release date, but stay tuned!
It's a cycle familiar to many: First, a striking image of a lithe, impossibly fit dancer executing a gravity-defying développé catches your eye on Instagram. You pause your scrolling to marvel, over and over again, at her textbook physique.
Inevitably, you take a moment to consider your own body, in comparison. Doubt and negative self-talk first creep, and then flood, in. "I'll never look like that," the voice inside your head whispers. You continue scrolling, but the image has done its dirty work—a gnawing sensation has taken hold, continually reminding you that your own body is inferior, less-than, unworthy.
It's no stretch to say that social media has a huge effect on body image. For dancers—most of whom already have a laser-focus on their appearance—the images they see on Instagram can seem to exacerbate ever-present issues. "Social media is just another trigger," says Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with the dancers of Atlanta Ballet. "And dancers don't need another trigger." In the age of Photoshop and filters, how can dancers keep body dysmorphia at bay?
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.