The Tony-Nominated Play Ink Has a Secret Weapon: Choreographer Lynne Page
It's no surprise that six Tony nominations, including one for best play, went to the newly opened Ink, a scintillating look at the early days of Rupert Murdoch's media empire. The London hit stars two Olivier Award winners, Bertie Carvel (as Murdoch) and Jonny Lee Miller (as editor Larry Lamb), and is directed by two-time Olivier winner Rupert Goold.
But Tony voters expecting James Graham's play to resemble other prestigious British imports will be surprised to find a choreographer, Lynne Page, listed in their Playbills, and several rowdy, exuberant romps on the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre stage.
Ink's choreographer and movement director Lynne Page
Playing With the Play
To tell the story of how a freewheeling eager beaver from Australia upended London's hidebound newspaper business in 1969, Graham, Goold and Page have infused it with some tabloid-y entertainment—spirited dance numbers to period pop songs and original music by Adam Cork. "Why would we not?" asks Page, who was Tony-nominated for the 2010 revival of La Cage aux Folles.
"James Graham writes this great, visceral language that is very visual. And Rupert Goold, one of the most visual directors I've ever worked with, is a great lover of dance, of movement, and really understands it. With that combination, it's just about being brave and bold, and saying, 'Of course we can do this within a play.' "
A Chorus Line
In Ink's longest musical sequence, Miller's kinetic Larry prowls the pubs of Fleet Street gathering a staff—which turns into a chorus line—for The Sun, the newspaper they will transform into a circulation behemoth with screaming headlines, giveaways and naked women.
Page trained in modern dance, but she says the broad, rollicking number is informed by images from horse racing, by the music and movement in the Pink Panther detective films, and by Ink's Tony-nominated set, a towering jumble of desks, chairs and other office furniture—what a pre-digital newsroom might look like after a tornado. "Adam Cork and I worked really closely together, forming it beat by beat," she says.
When Not to Count
To open Act II, when The Sun's outrageous headlines and attention-grabbing shenanigans are in full flower, Page drew on Britain's comedy traditions—vaudeville, the Carry On movies, slapstick—for a knockabout celebration that captures the paper's downmarket style and the crazy fun the staff has putting it out. Designing dance for a story about journalists has its challenges, Page admits.
"Ink should be treated as an absolute, actor-led straight play," she says. "You can never just go '5, 6, 7, 8.' I have to make sure that the movement is absolutely inhabited by them. Every choice needs to come from the actor, because if they live and breathe it, it becomes part of their skin. That's when it looks great."
The Broadway cast of Ink
Joan Marcus, Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown
When Not to Tap
As the cast changed for the Broadway production, so did the details in the choreography. "The structure is the same, and it's the same palette. But what fits one actor in London is not going to fit the actor in New York."
Miller, one of the New York newbies, "is inherently a fabulous dancer," says Page. "Very Gene Kelly-ish." But she couldn't very well have a newspaper editor ''suddenly break into a tap dance." When she'd catch Miller fooling around onstage—which, she jokes, "you should never do in front of a choreographer"—she managed to incorporate his "little physical flourishes" into the character's movement.
Roll the Presses
Page's job went beyond the dance moves. She's also credited as Ink's movement director. Because the play gets into the details of 20th-century newspaper production—in one scene Larry hammers type into place himself—Page dug up old film of the equipment and workers in action. "Linotype machines, the ink, the newsprint, the oil—what an extraordinary world," she says.
Jonny Lee Miller in Ink
Joan Marcus, Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown
From Kanye to Sondheim and Beyond
Page moves among many worlds herself—the day the Tony nominations were announced, an opera she choreographed was opening in Geneva. Her bio proudly notes that she worked with Kanye West and Stephen Sondheim in the same year, and lists movies, television, concert tours and commercials among her credits. Ask the Leicester-born choreographer which genre speaks most directly to her, and she says, "Dance transcends everything. My heart is taking the beauty of one genre and mixing it with another."
Thirty years ago, U.S. Joint Resolution 131, introduced by congressman John Conyers (D-MI) and Senator Alphonse D'Amato (R-NY), and signed into law by President G. W. Bush declared:
"Whereas the multifaceted art form of tap dancing is a manifestation of the cultural heritage of our Nation...
Whereas tap dancing is a joyful and powerful aesthetic force providing a source of enjoyment and an outlet for creativity and self-expression...
Whereas it is in the best interest of the people of our Nation to preserve, promote, and celebrate this uniquely American art form...
Whereas May 25, as the anniversary of the birth of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson is an appropriate day on which to refocus the attention of the Nation on American tap dancing: Now therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress that May 25, 1989, be designated "National Tap Dance Day."
Happy National Tap Dance Day!
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
Over the past 15 years, Gesel Mason has asked 11 choreographers—including legends like Donald McKayle, David Roussève, Bebe Miller, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Rennie Harris and Kyle Abraham—to teach her a solo. She's performed up to seven of them in one evening for her project No Boundaries: Dancing the Visions of Contemporary Black Choreographers.
Now, Mason is repackaging the essence of this work into a digital archive. This online offering shares the knowledge of a few with many, and considers how dance can live on as those who create it get older.
When a musical prepares to make the transfer from a smaller, lesser-known venue to Broadway (where theaters hold 500-plus seats), often there's a collective intake of breath from all involved. After all, a bigger house means more tickets to sell in order to stay in the black, and sometimes shows with even the most tenacious fan bases can't quite navigate such a jump. But what about the transfer from stage…to screen? Is Broadway ready to be consumed from the comfort of your couch?
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
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Daphne Lee was dancing with Collage Dance Collective in Memphis, Tennessee, when she received two difficult pieces of news: Her mother had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer, and her father had Parkinson's disease, affecting his mobility and mental faculties.
The New Jersey native's reaction: "I really need to move home."
Summer is almost upon us, and whether you're a student about to go on break or a pro counting the days till layoff, don't forget that with warm weather comes a very serious responsibility: To maintain your cross-training routine on your own.
Those of us who've tried to craft our own cross-training routine know it's easier said than done. So we consulted the stars, and rounded up the best options for every zodiac sign. (TBH, you should probably consult an expert, too—we'd recommend a physical therapist, a personal trainer or your teacher.)
It's become second nature in dance studios: The instant anyone gets hurt, our immediate reaction is to run to the freezer to grab some ice (or, more realistically, a package of frozen peas).
But as routine as icing our injuries might be, the benefits are not actually backed up by scientific studies. And some experts now believe icing could even disrupt the healing process.
I'm a contemporary dancer, and I'm nervous about trying to get pregnant since I can't predict if it might happen during the middle of the season. We have a union contract that is supposed to protect us. But I'm scared because several of my colleagues' contracts weren't renewed for no particular reason. Having a big belly could be a big reason to get rid of me!
—Andrea, New York, NY
When the going gets tough, the tough start dancing: That's the premise behind "Dance of Urgency," a recently opened exhibit at MuseumsQuartier Vienna that features photos, video and other documentary material relating to the use of dance as political protest or social uprising.
The groups featured in the show, largely based around clubs and electronic dance music scenes, span the globe and respond to a variety of issues—from inequality and social stratification to racial divides to crackdowns on club culture itself.
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:
When you're a foreign dancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.