A Documentary on Rita Moreno's Life Is in the Works—with Lin-Manuel Miranda as an Exec Producer
A documentary about famed performer Rita Moreno is in the works for PBS' American Masters series, and with Lin-Manuel Miranda on board as an executive producer, we're doubly excited. Slated for a 2020 release, Rita Moreno: The Girl Who Decided to Go for It will delve into the life of the Puerto Rican actress, singer and dancer.
At 87, she's showing no signs of slowing down—for starters, her Netflix show, "One Day at a Time," was renewed by Pop TV earlier this summer. Moreno's response? To retweet this post of her—doing what else but—dancing.
While Moreno is best known for her role as Anita in the 1961 film version of West Side Story, her career has spanned television, film and Broadway alike. In celebration of the upcoming doc, we're sharing seven reasons she inspires us—and we hope they 'll be expanded on in The Girl Who Decided to Go for It.
1. She launched her career when she was only 11.
Moreno was a go-getter right from the start. When she was 11, she worked as a voiceover artist for Spanish versions of American movies. Then, at 13, she debuted on Broadway in a play called Skydrift.
2. After Moreno won an Oscar for Anita, she continued to be faced with stereotypical casting as a Hispanic woman, but she persevered—and even called it out.
Moreno was the first Hispanic woman to win an Academy Award. But even after she took home the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in West Side Story, she faced difficulties in her career. In 2008, she reflected on the experience, telling the Miami Herald:
"What is interesting to me is having the vision so early and yet feeling so inferior to everybody else in the business for years and years because I believed I had to be subservient to anybody who wasn't Latino. Before West Side Story I was always offered the stereotypical Latina roles. The Conchitas and Lolitas in westerns. I was always barefoot. It was humiliating, embarrassing stuff. But I did it because there was nothing else. After West Side Story, it was pretty much the same thing. A lot of gang stories."
3. She's one of only two people to EGOT and complete the Triple Crown of Acting.
Moreno, along with Helen Hayes, is one of only two people ever to rack up the awards necessary for both an EGOT—that is, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony—and what's known as the Triple Crown of Acting (an Ocsar, Emmy and Tony each in competitive acting categories). That doesn't even include the other major awards she's snagged, such as the Peabody Career Achievement Award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Kennedy Center Honor.
4. Her first Emmy was for an appearance on "The Muppet Show."
A guest spot during a Season 1 episode of "The Muppet Show" in 1976 proved that Moreno could hold her own with the likes of Kermit, Animal and the gang. In the above dance scene, she partners a life-sized puppet, though she's most definitely not letting him lead her. Her humorous appearance earned her an Emmy Award for Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.
5. You may recognize her voice from a famous 1990s cartoon.
Moreno voiced the character of Carmen Sandiego in the TV series "Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?" from 1994–99. And, earlier this year, she returned to the franchise, voicing Cookie Booker in Netflix's "Carmen Sandiego" reboot.
6. She can rock the same dress 56 years later.
The award for Best Outfit Repeater of All Time easily goes to Moreno. For the 2018 Oscars, she rewore her gown from the 1962 awards. Back then, she was accepting her Oscar for West Side Story. Who wore it better: 1962 or 2018 Rita? The jury is still out.
7. She's currently filming a role in Steven Spielberg's upcoming West Side Story remake.
While Moreno is passing on her iconic Anita role to the inimitable Ariana DeBose, Moreno won't be absent from 2020's remake. She quipped on Instagram that "an 87 year old 'Anita' just won't do." Instead, she's been cast as Valentina, a corner store owner (originally written as Doc) whose role has been expanded. We can't wait to see Moreno back on the silver screen.
Most people may know Derek Dunn for his impeccable turns and alluring onstage charisma. But the Boston Ballet principal dancer is just as charming offstage, whether he's playing with his 3-year-old miniature labradoodle or working in the studio. Dance Magazine recently spent the day with Dunn as he prepared for his debut as Albrecht in the company's upcoming run of Giselle.
You know compelling musicality when you see it. But how do you cultivate it? It's not as elusive as it might seem. Musicality, like any facet of dance, can be developed and honed over time—with dedicated, detailed practice. At its most fundamental, it's "respect for the music, that this is your partner," says Kate Linsley, academy principal of the School of Nashville Ballet.
Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.
Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:
Notable dancer and beloved teacher, Ross Parkes, 79, passed away on August 5, 2019 in New York City. He was a founding faculty member at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, where he taught from 1984 to 2006. Lin Hwai-min, artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theater, said: "He nurtured two generations of dancers in Taiwan, and his legacy will continue."
About his dancing, Tonia Shimin, professor emerita at UC Santa Barbara and producer of Mary Anthony: A Life in Modern Dance, said this: "He was an exquisite, eloquent dancer who inhabited his roles completely."