Dance in Pop Culture

#tbt: Remember When Freddie Mercury Danced with The Royal Ballet?

Freddie Mercury once lent his talents to a Royal Ballet gala. Photo via YouTube.

Since the trailer dropped for the new Freddie Mercury biopic, everyone's buzzing about the upcoming movie (starring Rami Malek, no less). We're excited too, but, admittedly, a little distracted: Recently, we were reminded of two magical moments that the Queen frontman shared with the ballet world:


"Bohemian Rhapsody" at the Ballet


For a Royal Ballet gala in 1979, Mercury agreed to perform onstage with company dancers to "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." He didn't just sing; Mercury was integrated into the anything-but-classical choreography (catch his leap at 1:39).

Though he's no danseur, Mercury rips around the stage with infectious energy—energy that hopefully raised a lot of money for charity that evening. At a time when the fusion of ballet and pop music wasn't commonplace, it thrilled—and perhaps shocked—audiences. Unfortunately, this clip doesn't preserve the performance's original audio, which featured a seamless blend of Mercury's vocals and a live orchestral arrangement.

An article on Rolling Stone's website mentions details of the rehearsal process:

"They had me practicing at the barre and all that, stretching my legs ... trying to do things in a week that they'd been doing for years," he told The London Evening News. "It was murder. After two days I was in agony. It was hurting me in places I didn't know I had, dear."


"I Want to Break Free" Meets Nijinsky

When Queen was making the video for their 1984 hit "I Want to Break Free," Wayne Eagling (then a star at The Royal Ballet) was called in to contribute his choreographic talents. Skip ahead to 2:14 to see Mercury once again performing with the company, but in a much more classical light. It's an unmistakable homage to Nijinsky's famed Afternoon of a Faun, and Mercury plays the Faun. Priceless.

Show Comments ()
What Wendy's Watching
PC Paul Kolnik

New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.


Keep reading... Show less
Career Advice
92Y Harkness Dance Center is hosting the first festival dedicated to dance films captured on mobile devices. Photo by Adam Grannick, Courtesy 92Y

Who says you need fancy equipment to make a festival-worthy dance film? Right now, two New York City–based dance film festivals are calling for aspiring filmmakers to show their stuff—and you don't need anything more cumbersome than a smartphone to get in on the action.

Here's everything you need to know about how to submit:

Keep reading... Show less
News
The inimitable Alicia Alonso, now 97, remains at the helm of Ballet Nacional de Cuba. Photo by Leysis Quesada, Courtesy BNC

On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba tours the U.S. this spring with the resolute Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso a the helm. Named a National Hero of Labor in Cuba, Alonso, 97, has weathered strained international relations and devastating fiscal challenges to have BNC emerge as a world-class dance company. Her dancers are some of ballet's best. On offer this time are Alonso's Giselle and Don Quixote. The profoundly Cuban company performs in Chicago May 18–20, Tampa May 23, Washington, D.C., May 29–June 3 and Saratoga, New York June 6–8.

Dance in Pop Culture
Participants show off their plié. Screenshot via YouTube

We all know that the general population's knowledge of ballet is sometimes...a bit skewed. (See: people touching their fingertips to the top of their head, and Kendall Jenner hopping around at the barre.)

Would your average Joe know how to do ballet's most basic step: a plié? Or, more to the point, even know what it is?

SELF decided to find out.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers Trending
Lisset Santander is adding more contemporary works to her repertoire. Here with Jarrett Reimers in Christopher Wheeldon's Fools Paradise. Photo by Jennifer Zmuda, Courtesy BalletMet.

When Lisset Santander bourréed onstage as Myrtha in BalletMet's Giselle this past February, her consummate portrayal of the Queen of the Wilis was marked by steely grace and litheness. The former Cuban National Ballet dancer had defected to the U.S. at 21, and after two years with the Ohio company, she's now closer to the dance career she says she always wanted: one of limitless possibilities.

Keep reading... Show less
Career Advice
James Samson in Three Dubious Memories. Photo by Paul B. Goode, courtesy Paul Taylor Dance Company

For 17 years, James Samson has been the model Paul Taylor dancer. There is something fundamentally decent about his stage persona. He's a tall dancer—six feet—but never imposes himself. He's muscular, but gentle. And when he moves, it is his humanity that shines through, even more than his technique.

But all dancing careers come to an end, and James Samson's is no exception; now 43, he'll be retiring in August, after a final performance at the Teatro Romano in Verona, where he'll be dancing in Cloven Kingdom, Piazzolla Caldera and Promethean Fire.

Keep reading... Show less
News
via Instagram

The wait for Alexei Ratmansky's restaging of Petipa's Harlequinade is almost over! But if you can't wait until American Ballet Theatre officially debuts the ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House on June 6, we've got you covered. ABT brought the Harlequinade characters to life (and to the Alder Mansion in Yonkers, NY) in a short film by Ezra Hurwitz, and it's a guaranteed to make you laugh.


Keep reading... Show less
Rant & Rave
The power dynamics and working environments in dance can leave women vulnerable. Photo by Soragrit Wongsa/Unsplash

When an anonymous letter accused former New York City Ballet leader Peter Martins of sexual harassment last year, it felt like what had long been an open secret—the prevalence of harassment in the dance world—was finally coming to the surface. But the momentum of the #MeToo movement, at least in dance, has since died down.

Martins has retired, though an investigation did not corroborate any of the claims against him. He and former American Ballet Theatre star Marcelo Gomes, who suddenly resigned in December, were the only cases to make national headlines in the U.S. We've barely scratched the surface of the dance world's harassment problem.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Wayne McGregor in rehearsal at The Royal Ballet, where he is resident choreographer. Photo by Johan Persson, Courtesy Royal Opera House

Many choreographers have been defeated by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. However, one dancemaker whose stridency, rhythmic daring and sheer inventiveness could possibly match Stravinsky's is Wayne McGregor. For his first commission from American Ballet Theatre, McGregor has taken on this earth-cracking music in AFTERITE, to premiere at ABT's Spring Gala. Also on the May 21 gala program are excerpts from Alexei Ratmansky's restaging of the comic ballet Harlequinade, the full version of which will premiere next month, and a pièce d'occasion by tapper Michelle Dorrance. May 21–26. abt.org.

Style & Beauty
Marilyn knows what's up. Via Giphy

If diamonds are a girl's best friend, it's safe to say that faux-diamond earrings are a dancer's best friend. A fixture onstage at just about every competition weekend, these blinged-out baubles are also the surest sign that recital season is upon us again. And what better way to get into the sparkly spirit than by drooling over these 5 diamonds in the rough? (Sorry not sorry!)

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Viral Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox

Sponsored

Giveaways