"Law & Order: SVU" Has a New Dance Plot That Seems "Ripped from the Headlines"
"Law & Order: SVU" has dominated the crime show genre for 21 seasons with its famous "ripped from the headlines" strategy of taking plot inspiration from real-life crimes.
So viewers would be forgiven for assuming that the new storyline following the son of Mariska Hargitay's character into dance class originated in the news cycle. After all, the mainstream media widely covered the reaction to Lara Spencer's faux pas on "Good Morning America" in August, when she made fun of Prince George for taking ballet class.
But it turns out
, the storyline was actually the idea of the 9-year-old actor, Ryan Buggle, who plays Hargitay's son. And he came up with it before Spencer ever giggled at the word ballet.
"Dancing is my favorite thing to do," says Buggle, "so I wrote a script over the summer and gave it to the writers."
Buggle, who has been dancing ever since he joined a hip-hop class at age 5, drafted a plot where his character Noah trained in dance. The writers latched onto the idea of incorporating Buggle's real-life passion into the show.
The storyline debuted last Thursday, on Episode 3 of Season 21, titled, "Down Low in Hell's Kitchen," about a serial attacker in the black gay community and a faked assault à la Jussie Smollett.
The episode opens with Noah telling his mom Olivia that he's bored of baseball. They just so happen to be outside the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater studios, so Noah points to the dancers on the other side of the windows and says, "That looks like fun."
A scene from "Law & Order: SVU"
We return to the Ailey studios in the closing scene, when Olivia drops Noah off for his first ballet class. Wearing a crisp white T-shirt and black tights, he smiles back at his mom, who's watching from the doorway, as the teacher leads the students through a plié combination in the center.
(Buggle tells Dance Magazine that the other kids in class are his friends from his competition studio, Pro Dance, in New Jersey.)
While it's not yet clear how much dance will be shown in future episodes, we love the potential of this storyline to help normalize boys in ballet.
For his part, when asked what he hopes will come out of this storyline, Buggle shares, "I just want everyone to know that they can dance—no matter what people say."
In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.
And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.
"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."
The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.