All Aboard: Two Cruise Lines Are Investing in Top-Tier Dance Talent
Could the hottest new ticket in dance be at sea? While Virgin Voyages will offer immersive dance theater on its maiden ship the Scarlet Lady, Celebrity Cruises is bringing guests closer to the stars through a partnership with American Ballet Theatre. With these new ventures, Celebrity and Virgin will bring bespoke dance experiences to their guests, and dancers will have a chance to push their artistry off the proscenium stage while sailing between exotic ports of call.
Trenary performing a pas de deux from Le Corsaire
Courtesy Celebrity Cruises
Guests sailing with Celebrity Cruises will be able to see ABT members perform, take dancer-led barre classes and have intimate conversations with the artists about their lives and work. "We love the idea of meeting new audiences where they are," says ABT's executive director Kara Medoff Barnett. "There are 3,000-plus guests per week and many have never encountered ballet, so that delivers on our mission to bring the best of ballet to the widest possible audience."
Throughout the year, both during the season and on off weeks, ABT will send two dancers at a time to perform both classical and contemporary pas de deux. Cassandra Trenary and James Whiteside were the first pair to voyage out back in March. In total, 12 pairs will perform on various routes this year, with destinations from Alaska to the Caribbean. "While it is a casting and scheduling puzzle," says Medoff Barnett, "for the dancers, it is a chance to take a breather and have some fun." As for safety concerns, such as performing on pointe when the sea is rough, the dancers are given ultimate discretion over determining what they can do and when.
Pinkleton (right) rehearsing Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812
Evgenia Eliseeva, Courtesy ICM Partners
In preparation for the launch of their luxury Adult-by-Design cruise line in April 2020, Virgin Voyages and its Creative Collective have partnered with RWS Entertainment Group to bring a slate of brand-new productions to life from the likes of producer Randy Weiner (Sleep No More), Broadway's Sam Pinkleton and The Dance Cartel's Ani Taj, and circus group The 7 Fingers. In an email, Pinkleton and Taj wrote: "A cruise ship is a place where strangers come together and often end up heading back to their rooms at night dancing, sweaty and carrying their high heels in their hands. We couldn't imagine a more perfect—um—vessel—for our work." Pinkleton and Taj's UNTITLED DANCESHOWPARTYTHING is billed as a "hype music video disguised as an absurdist-style dance party." The audition tour for this, and other cutting-edge shows, happened in the spring; rehearsals are set to begin in January 2020.
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.
You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)
Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of: