Broadway

What's It Actually Like to Dance a Solo on Broadway?

Ashley Blair Fitzgerald as the Dark Lady. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy Rubenstein

Dance on Broadway is usually more about ensemble work than stealing the singular spotlight. That's true for most of The Cher Show, with Christopher Gattelli's choreography supporting the titular diva. But for one second-act number, dance takes center stage.


Enter Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, who steps out of the ensemble to captivate with a sensual solo to the song "Dark Lady." In a show stuffed with catchy pop songs and dizzying costume changes, it's a scene unlike any other: The lead actors drop back, and Fitzgerald becomes the sole focus as she's partnered by a bevy of men and spends much of the number in the air. On the night I attended, her electric stage presence resulted in the longest applause of the evening, aside from the curtain call. We spoke with Fitzgerald about being in The Cher Show and commanding the stage with this literal show-stopper.

A head shot of the performer. She has long blond hair and is wearing a red shirt.

Ashley Blair Fitzgerald

Courtesy Rubenstein

How She Booked the Show

"I went to the invited dance call, and over the course of four months was called back five times to dance, read and sing. Three weeks before the lab started, I got the call!"

On Working with Gattelli

"Chris encourages an ego-free, collaborative experience. If something didn't work he never made me feel inferior. He would just say, 'Okay, how can we make it work for you and your body?' Because he worked like this, I gave him my complete trust."

A photo from The Cher Show. Cher is pointing toward the audience and wearing a silver, sparkly costume. She is surrounded by dancers holding open umbrellas.

Joan Marcus, Courtesy Rubenstein

About That Solo

"Being given the opportunity to do what you love, on a Broadway stage, is a monumental experience. It's taught me the value in being part of a creation. Performing something that you feel a part of is really a dream come true."

On Choreography That Travels Through Time

"The different dance styles are what makes this show fun. One moment you're doing a '60s twist, the next you're a Vegas showgirl. We did our research to make sure we were executing the intention of the step correctly, which has allowed our bodies to live injury-free within the steps."

A line of female dancers arch backwards. Their hair is down and they're wearing black boots, tights, a bra and jacket.

Joan Marcus, Courtesy Rubenstein

Her Pre-Show Ritual

"Sixty minutes before curtain, I go down to the concession area and give myself a full ballet barre. I love to listen to Adele, Fleetwood Mac or Etta James. The music really helps clear my mind.

"Then I do about 10 to 15 minutes of spot-training for injuries and maintenance, which includes lots of bridges, stretching and crunches! At intermission, I repeat the spot-training. Just before I take the stage for 'Dark Lady,' I run through the dance, stretch my legs and say a prayer for the dance to go well and that no one gets hurt."

Onstage Shenanigans

"In the second act we have a reporter/paparazzi scene where the ensemble is used as a silhouette. Since the opening of the show, myself and two other cast members have made up a completely fake news company, with fake names and fake stories. We're currently working on a story about a 'duckefant.' The first ever duck/elephant hybrid animal. It's so silly but it keeps things fresh and fun."

The three Cher characters sing downstage while wearing white. Backup dancers in black move behind them.

Joan Marcus, Courtesy Rubenstein

The Most Challenging Part of the Show

"We have an action-packed finale with many different dance styles, including something called 'theater street jazz.' Grasping this style has been the biggest challenge for me. Every performance I try to execute it better than the last. However, I sometimes feel I come up short. But I will never stop trying!"

Fitzgerald's Advice for Broadway Hopefuls

1. Train. "There are no shortcuts to technique. It will help you with injury prevention, prolong your career and allow you to dance any type of style."

2. Step outside your comfort zone. "Take an acting class, a voice class. Dancing is acting with your body. This will help you tell the story."

3. Take risks, but stay grounded. "Trust your choreographers and coaches. It takes courage, but if you do the work, magic can happen."

Dancers Trending
Chantelle Pianetta competing at a West Coast swing event. Courtesy Pianetta.

Just hearing the word "improvisation" is enough to make some ballet dancers shake in their pointe shoes. But for Chantelle Pianetta, it's a practice she relishes. Depending on the weekend, you might find her gracing Bay Area stages as a principal with Menlowe Ballet or sweeping in awards at West Coast swing competitions.

She specializes in Jack and Jill events, which involve improvised swing dancing with an unexpected partner in front of a panel of judges. (Check her out in action below.) While sustaining her ballet career, over the past four years Pianetta has quickly risen from novice to champion level on the WCS international competition circuit.

Keep reading... Show less
Cover Story
Jayme Thornton

Sean Dorsey was always going to be an activist. Growing up in a politically engaged, progressive family in Vancouver, British Columbia, "it was my heart's desire to create change in the world," he says. Far less certain was his future as a dancer.

Like many dancers, Dorsey fell in love with movement as a toddler. However, he didn't identify strongly with any particular gender growing up. Dorsey, who now identifies as trans, says, "I didn't see a single person like me anywhere in the modern dance world." The lack of trans role models and teachers, let alone all-gender studio facilities where he could feel safe and welcome, "meant that even in my wildest dreams, there was no room for that possibility."

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Getty Images

It's hour three of an intense rehearsal, you're feeling mentally foggy and exhausted, and your stomach hurts. Did you know the culprit could be something as simple as dehydration?

Proper hydration helps maintain physical and mental function while you're dancing, and keeps your energy levels high. But with so many products on the market promising to help you rehydrate more effectively, how do you know when it's time to reach for more than water?

Keep reading... Show less
Breaking Stereotypes
James Beaudreau, Courtesy Roberto Lara

Inside a bustling television studio in Los Angeles, Lindsay Arnold Cusick hears the words "Five minutes to showtime." While dancers and celebrities covered head to toe in sequins whirl around preparing for their live performances on "Dancing with the Stars," Cusick pauses to say a prayer to God and express her gratitude.

"I know that it's not a given, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to do what I love for a living," says Cusick, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For her, prayer is a ritualized expression of her faith that she has maintained since she was a girl in Provo, Utah. Even with her seven-plus years of industry experience, she always takes a moment to steady herself and close her prayer in Christ's name before rushing onto the stage.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox