We're beyond excited by the dance talent in Andy Blankenbuehler's new musical. Photo by Rachel Papo

You'll Never Guess Which Ballet Legend is in Andy Blankenbuehler's New Musical

We're willing to admit that Only Gold, a Broadway musical that Andy Blankenbuehler has had in the works since 2013, had somewhat slipped our mind. (In all fairness, Blankenbuehler got rather busy choreographing a moderately successful musical about American history, and then directing and choreographing Bandstand.)

But after an Instagram post from New York City Ballet soloist and CATS alum Georgina Pazcoguin last week, our curiosity is beyond piqued.

Yep, that's ballet legend Alessandra Ferri. And yep, that means the pair of ballerinas are in rehearsals with Blankenbuehler for Only Gold. Excited doesn't even begin to cover it. Here's what we know so far:


What's this musical about anyway?

Only Gold centers on a maharaja in 1920s Paris, though details are still hazy. (Not to be confused with the plot of Moulin Rouge! in which a writer in 1920s Paris is working on a show featuring a love triangle between a penniless sitar player, a courtesan and a maharaja.)

The dance talent in the rehearsal room is INSANE

Alessandra Ferri in rehearsal at The Royal Ballet. Photo by Andrej Uspenski, Courtesy ROH

We've got Ferri, arguably the greatest dance actress of her generation. We've got Pazcoguin, who was tapped by Blankenbuehler to play the balletic Victoria in the 2016 Broadway revival of CATS. And then there's Justice Moore, AKA "The Bullet" in the original Chicago ensemble of Hamilton. These three are reportedly playing the wives of the maharaja (Seán Martin Hingston).

Not to mention Ricky Ubeda (Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel, CATS, "SYTYCD"), Ryan Steele (Newsies), Ryan Vasquez (Hamilton), Cindy Salgado (Kidd Pivot)...stop us before we list everyone we recognize in Pazcoguin's photo.

Kate Nash is handling the music

Robin Little/Red Ferns/Getty Images

The English singer-songwriter has been working on this project for about eight years. Nash's catalogue will be used in the musical, as well as material she is composing specifically for the show. Earlier this summer, she told Harper's Bazaar, "It's quite amazing seeing dancers physically interpret my songs because it puts a whole new spin on them."

There's a ways to go before it's preview-ready

Blankenbuehler has actors and dancers in the studio, and there was a reading of the first act recently, so the project is definitely coming along. But there's no word yet on when a full staging, much less an out-of-town tryout, might happen. (It's fine, we'll just keep Instagram-stalking the cast until then...)

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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