Isabella Boylston Dishes on JLaw, Sergei Polunin and the Long Process Behind Red Sparrow's Ballet Sequence
Big Hollywood movies featuring dance are few and far between, so curiosity about the thriller Red Sparrow, opening Friday and starring Jennifer Lawrence as a Russian ballerina-turned-spy, is understandably at a high pitch. The production, which also stars Jeremy Irons, includes not one but four familiar dance names: Sergei Polunin, the enfant terrible of the ballet world, plays Lawrence's ballet partner; Justin Peck choreographed all the dance sequences; Kurt Froman, former New York City Ballet dancer, trained Lawrence; and American Ballet Theatre's Isabella Boylston performs as Lawrence's dance double.
How'd you get involved in Red Sparrow?
Justin Peck, who choreographed the movie, reached out to me. I've never done anything like that. And any chance to work with Justin...
Where did you work out the choreography?
We started in the fall of 2016 in New York. We would send the videos to Sergei Polunin so he could learn the choreography on his own. Meanwhile, Kurt Froman was working with Jennifer Lawrence in L.A., teaching her some ballet basics.
When did you do the filming?
We shot in Budapest in January of 2017. We had a couple of weeks of rehearsal, just me and Sergei with Justin. Francis Lawrence, the director, would film it on his iPhone to figure out what he wanted to do with the camerawork. He really wanted to maek the dance sequences authentic. He would ask me to show how I used the rosin box and what I would do in the wings before going out. Just to make it true.
Was Jennifer Lawrence intimidated to be dancing next to a real ballerina?
Well, I was definitely a little intimidated! [Laughs] I think she really appreciated what we were doing and wanted to learn about it. She would film our rehearsals on her iPhone, just to try to capture the feeling.
What was working with Sergei Polunin like? He has a bit of a bad-boy reputation.
He's actually really nice and more quiet than I expected. I was impressed by what a good partner he was. He was very professional. He would shoot all day with no breaks. I'd be like, "I'm hungry, I need to stop." And he'd say, "Let's just keep going."
Boylston and Polunin at work in Budapest. Photo via Instagram
What did the filming process entail?
We shot really long days. My call time would be like 4 am. Sergei and I would do a few takes of one sequence, and Jennifer would repeat that sequence with Kurt coaching her, just for the head and upper-body stuff.
What were your impressions of Lawrence?
I was impressed by how she was going for it even though it was so out of her comfort zone. It was so interesting to see how when the camera started she could instantly switch on the intensity.
Did Justin Peck alter his style, knowing that he was choreographing for a movie rather than the stage?
He didn't adapt the difficulty at all. He made really advanced choreography. But he tried to think of things that would look good on film.
So, did you catch the acting bug?
Honestly, I would love to do more. It's not something I'm actively pursuing, but if more movie stuff comes to me, I'll definitely do it.
What do Percy Jackson, Princess Diana and Tina Turner have in common? They're all characters on Broadway this season. Throw in Michelle Dorrance's choreographic debut, Henry VIII's six diva-licious wives and the 1990s angst of Alanis Morissette, and the 2019–20 season is shaping up to be an exciting mix of past-meets-pop-culture-present.
Here's a look at the musicals hitting Broadway in the coming months. We're biding our time until opening night!
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
Ah, stretching. It seems so simple, and is yet so complicated.
For example: You don't want to overstretch, but you're not going to see results if you don't stretch enough. You want to focus on areas where you're tight, but you also can't neglect other areas or else you'll be imbalanced. You were taught to hold static stretches growing up, but now everyone is telling you never to hold a stretch longer than a few seconds?
Considering how important stretching correctly is for dancers, it's easy to get confused or overwhelmed. So we came up with 10 common stretching scenarios, and gave you the expert low-down.