This New Hip-Hop Dance-Theater Show Will Be Set to Tracks by Sting
By now, these formulas aren't anything new: Choreographers are increasingly recruiting pop stars to create scores. And Broadway producers have long followed the time-honored (not to mention moneymaking) tradition of building shows from an artist's hit catalog (see: the currently running Cher Show and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and the Broadway-bound Jagged Little Pill and Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough.)
But choreographer Kate Prince is putting a new twist on the dance-meets-pop-star story: pairing street dance with the iconic songs of Sting and The Police. The show, Message in a Bottle, is currently in development and slated to open at Sadler's Wells in February 2020.
The dance-theater production has a decidedly narrative bent, focusing on what happens when a joyous village comes under siege and is dramatically changed. From there, it follows three siblings and their extraordinary adventures. And yes, they'll be dancing to plenty of recognizable songs, including "Roxanne," "Every Breath You Take," "Walking on the Moon," "Fields of Gold," and "Shape of My Heart."
Details about the choreography remain vague, though Sadler's Wells describes Message in a Bottle as "a mix of exhilarating dance styles, dazzling footwork and breathtaking athleticism."
Though Prince may be largely unknown in the U.S., she's a heavy-hitter in the UK dance scene. The three-time Olivier Award nominee directs her own hip-hop troupe, ZooNation, and is an associate artist at Sadler's Wells. She was the lead choreographer for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and has contributed to popular British reality shows like "Strictly Come Dancing." Her 2008 work Into the Hoods broke ground as the first hip-hop show to open in London's West End and as the longest running dance production there.
Message in a Bottle isn't Sting's first dance-related project: Though his musical The Last Ship closed early on Broadway, it had greater success in the West End and opens in Toronto in February.
Prince promised the Standard that Sting's unmistakable vocals would be part of Message in a Bottle, though it's too soon to know if they'll use recorded tracks or a live band. "His voice is very distinctive and as a fan I would be gutted if I went to see a Sting show and he was not singing," she said. "It is not Mamma Mia! It is very much a dance show but a dance show with a story."
Here's hoping for an eventual U.S. tour. Who wouldn't want to see this Englishman in New York?
Alicia has died. I walked around my apartment feeling her spirit, but knowing something had changed utterly.
My father, the late conductor Benjamin Steinberg, was the first music director of the Ballet de Cuba, as it was called then. I grew up in Vedado on la Calle 1ra y doce in a building called Vista al Mar. My family lived there from 1959 to 1963. My days were filled with watching Alicia teach class, rehearse and dance. She was everything: hilarious, serious, dramatic, passionate and elegiac. You lost yourself and found yourself when you loved her.
"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.
It's Nutcracker time again: the season of sweet delights and a sparkling good time—if we're able to ignore the sour taste left behind by the outdated racial stereotypes so often portrayed in the second act.
In 2017, as a result of a growing list of letters from audience members, to New York City Ballet's ballet master in chief Peter Martins reached out to us asking for assistance on how to modify the elements of Chinese caricature in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Following that conversation, we founded the Final Bow for Yellowface pledge that states, "I love ballet as an art form, and acknowledge that to achieve a diversity amongst our artists, audiences, donors, students, volunteers, and staff, I am committed to eliminating outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians (Yellowface) on our stages."
An audience member once emailed Dallas choreographer Joshua L. Peugh, claiming his work was vulgar. It complained that he shouldn't be pushing his agenda. As the artistic director of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, Peugh's recent choreography largely deals with LGBTQ issues.
"I got angry when I saw that email, wrote my angry response, deleted it, and then went back and explained to him that that's exactly why I should be making those works," says Peugh.
With the current political climate as polarized as it is, many artists today feel compelled to use their work to speak out on issues they care deeply about. But touring with a message is not for the faint of heart. From considerations about how to market the work to concerns about safety, touring to cities where, in general, that message may not be so welcome, requires companies to figure out how they'll respond to opposition.