Here's a Quirky Dance-Related Dream Job: Giving Models Their Moves
If you've ever wondered where models get their moves, look just off-camera for Pat Boguslawski. As a movement director and creative consultant based in London, he works with top brands, fashion designers, magazines and film directors to elicit bold, photogenic movement for ad campaigns, runway shows and film. Boguslawski has collaborated with plenty of big-name talent—FKA Twigs, Hailey Baldwin, Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian—and draws on his diverse experience in hip hop, contemporary dance, acting and modeling.
Dance Magazine recently asked him about how he got this career, and what it takes to thrive in it.
How He Got Started as a Movement Director
"I first thought maybe this is something I could do when I was modeling in an Alexander McQueen runway show and Sarah Burton, the designer, asked me to coach the other male models to move like I did. I had trained as a dancer in Poland and then at the Debbie Reynolds Studio in Los Angeles. I'd recently returned to the UK after studying drama in Poland for three years, and I thought I might be able to combine all my interests to create something new."
On set with FKA Twigs for a shoot for Wonderland Magazine
Why Movement Direction is Different from Choreography
"This is not dance work. It doesn't take a lot of technique training, but you need vision, energy and a willingness to accept that there's a difference between what's in your head and what you can create in the moment. You have to understand set life, lighting, cameras and how film works.
"A lot of choreographers might feel like they aren't doing enough on set, but it's a challenge to stay creative toward the end of a 14-hour day."
How He Preps for Shoots
"Because the work is so spontaneous, I don't like preparing too much. Sometimes directors will use mood boards to help communicate what they envision, but I don't want to re-create something else, and reference photos can get me stuck in my own head. I like to surprise myself.
"I tend to find inspiration through people-watching. I don't have a car because I love to travel by metro or bike and take in each stranger's unique body language."
"My playlist is also incredibly important on set—I probably spend two hours a day on Spotify selecting music to evoke the energy I want."
A Vogue Italia shoot. Photo by David Dunan, courtesy Boguslawski
Overcoming Challenges On Set
"Some talent can be difficult or even lazy. Maybe they can't pull off what I thought would work, but I take in the light and their energy in the moment and something magic happens. Or I find one move they can nail, and we just do that over and over.
"Photos are all about angles and making it iconic, but for moving images it can be tricky—it might be up to the editor to make it look good.
"I don't see myself as a dancer or choreographer during the process. Sometimes I'm like a mirror of the model, and I imagine myself being in those clothes and taking on a character. Sometimes the models are singers or actors who have their own ideas. Some of my best work has come from dancing with the inspiration I see in them."
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"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.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.