News

These 6 Dancers Are Appearing in the New Film AND Broadway Productions of “West Side Story”

The dancers doing double duty include Ben Cook, who'll play Riff on Broadway and a Jets member in the film. (Photo by Erin Baiano)

Could it be? Yes it could. Something's coming, something good…

Well, two somethings, to be precise. Next February, a West Side Story revival, directed by Ivo van Hove and choreographed by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, is coming to Broadway. And next December, a new West Side Story film, directed by Steven Spielberg and choreographed by Justin Peck, is coming to movie theaters.

The two productions promise radically different takes on the iconic musical, originally directed and choreographed (for both stage and film) by Jerome Robbins. But—as we discovered yesterday, when casting for the Broadway revival was announced—six remarkable dancers will be part of both projects.

Meet, or re-meet, the West Side Story multitaskers: Yesenia Ayala, Ben Cook, Kevin Csolak, Carlos E. Gonzalez, Jacob Guzman, and Ricky Ubeda..


Yesenia Ayala (Anita on Broadway, Sharks ensemble in film)

The gifted Ayala—one of Dance Spirit's 2019 Broadway ensemble standouts—is three-time Chita Rivera Award nominee. She's danced on Broadway in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Carousel, working with Peck on the latter.

Ben Cook (Riff on Broadway, Jets ensemble in film)

Does Cook look familiar? You might recognize him from his run as Billy in the North American tour of Billy Elliot. Or from his scene-stealing turn in the Mean Girls ensemble on Broadway. Or from the HBO film Paterno. Which is all to say he's got both dancing and acting skills in spades.

Kevin Csolak (A-Rab on Broadway, Jets ensemble in film)

In addition to appearing on Broadway in Mean Girls, Csolak is a commerical-dance standout who's performed with Hayley Kiyoko and Justin Timberlake. He's also an accomplished actor, with credits including "Boardwalk Empire" and "Blue Bloods."

Carlos E. Gonzalez (Sharks ensemble on Broadway and in film)

The magnetic Gonzalez, born and raised in Cuba, is an alum of Montclair State University. He made his Broadway debut in On Your Feet!, earning an Astaire Award nomination for his performance.

Jacob Guzman (Chino on Broadway, Sharks ensemble in film)

The very talented Guzman has an impressive Broadway resumé that includes Fiddler on the Roof and Newsies. He also danced in the Angelica Tour of Hamilton and appeared in "Peter Pan Live!" on NBC. (And—fun fact—he's a dancing twin.)

Ricky Ubeda (Sharks ensemble on Broadway and in film)

Ubeda's first Broadway role, in On the Town, was part of the prize package he earned as the winner of "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 11. Clearly bitten by the Broadway bug, he went on to lend his high-spirited charm to the Broadway productions of CATS and Carousel.

Rant & Rave
Dorfman in his Come, and Back Again. Ian Douglas, Courtesy Dorfman

I hate asking for money. I am tired of feeling like we, as dance practitioners, are constantly begging for every morsel of sustenance. We are often seen as the poor stepchildren of the arts, usually thought of as having nothing tangible to sell.

Keep reading... Show less
Career Advice
Tarkan Seregül Photography, Courtesy Smyth

I have to admit, I've had a wonderful career. I've danced with The Royal Ballet and The Joffrey Ballet, done a stint on the West End in An American in Paris, played the Snow Cavalier in Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms with Misty Copeland, and will soon be performing as Older Billy in the Australian tour of Billy Elliot: The Musical.

How did I get in this position? Through the eight international ballet competitions I've entered.

If you want to travel the world performing and doing what you love, competitions are your ticket to finding the freedom to dance wherever you want to go.

Keep reading... Show less
Advice for Dancers
Getty Images

How do I get rid of seasonal depression? I fall into a funk as soon as the weather gets warmer, and I should be happy.

—Warm Weather Blues, New York, NY

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Training
Getty Images

By the Sunday evening of a long convention weekend, you can expect to be thoroughly exhausted and a little sore. But you shouldn't leave the hotel ballroom actually hurt. Although conventions can be filled with magical opportunities, the potential for injury is higher than usual.

Keep your body safe: Watch out for these four common hazards.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox