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.

Dance on Broadway
Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown

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.

Keep reading... Show less
What Dancers Eat
Lindsay Thomas

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?

Keep reading... Show less
News
Simon Soong, Courtesy DDT

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.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Alice Pennefather, Courtesy ROH

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:

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox