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)

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

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.

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Courtesy Ava Noble

Go Behind the Scenes of USC Kaufman’s Virtual Dance Festival

Now more than ever, the students of USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance are embodying their program's vision: "The New Movement."

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, the dance world continues to be faced with unprecedented challenges, but USC Kaufman's faculty and BFA students haven't shied away from them. While many schools have had to cancel events or scale them back to live-from-my-living-room streams, USC Kaufman has embraced the situation and taken on impressive endeavors, like expanding its online recruitment efforts.

November 1 to 13, USC Kaufman will present A/Part To/Gather, a virtual festival featuring world premieres from esteemed faculty and guest choreographers, student dance films and much more. All semester long, they've rehearsed via Zoom from their respective student apartments or hometowns. And they haven't solely been dancing. "You have a rehearsal process, and then a filming process, and a production process of putting it together," says assistant professor of practice Jennifer McQuiston Lott of the prerecorded and professionally edited festival.

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