Sutton Foster in "Bunheads"—Shades of Heather Watts???

The new TV show Bunheads has something no other dance show has: Sutton Foster. The frustrating thing is that she doesn’t dance much, she doesn’t tap at all (she’s a fabulous tapper—see our cover story), and she doesn’t sing (she has a fabulous voice too). But she is an incredible actor, and it’s worth slogging through the ridiculous plotline to see her play her sarcastic-but-loving character Michelle to the hilt.

Here’s a surprise: Amy Sherman-Palladino, who conceived and wrote the show, said in a Vulture interview that she based Michelle on Heather Watts. A showgirl based on a ballerina? Apparently Sherman-Palladino studied at the same school as Heather. But whether that was the School of American Ballet or her school back in Chatsworth, California is unclear. (Anyone have a guess? Email me at wperron@dancemedia.com.)

If you happen to have the February 1980 issue of Dance Magazine, read the terrific cover story on Heather Watts. I only saw her dance once, in Balanchine’s Bugaku, and can attest to her being as fascinating onstage as John Gruen describes in this story. I salute the Bunheads writer for trying to imagine what a live-wire character like Heather Watts would have done if she hadn’t re-committed herself to ballet. But I wonder if Sherman-Palladino knows that Heather is now teaching dance at Harvard and just earned an honorary degree at Hunter.

And if their school in common was in Chatsworth, does that mean that the character played by Kelly Bishop is based on their teacher, Sheila Rozann? Maybe so. Bishop was the orignal Sheila in A Chorus Line and now she’s another brassy Sheila in Bunheads.

According to the Vulture interview, Sherman-Palladino was a committed dancer until she started getting more gigs as a TV writer than a dancer. I am hoping there will be more dancing in future Bunheads episodes. —Wendy Perron

Breaking Stereotypes
Lindsay Martell at a class performance. Courtesy Martell.

More than once, when I'm sporting my faded, well-loved ballet hoodie, some slight variation of this conversation ensues:

"Is your daughter the dancer?"

"Actually," I say, "I am."

"Wow!" they enthuse. "Who do you dance with? Or have you retired...?"

"I don't dance with a company. I'm not a professional. I just take classes."

Insert mic drop/record scratch/quizzical looks.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers Trending
Taylor Stanley in Apollo. Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy New York City Ballet

You nominated your favorite dance moments so far in 2019, and we narrowed them down to this list. Now it's time to cast your vote to help decide who will be deemed our Readers' Choice picks for the year!

Voting is open until September 17th. Only one vote per person will be counted.

Keep reading... Show less
The USC Kaufman graduating class with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Gus Ruelas/USC

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:

Keep reading... Show less
News
Teaċ Daṁsa in Michael Keegan-Dolan's Loch na hEala. Photo by Marie-Laure Briane, courtesy Walker Art Center

The 2019–20 season is here, and with it more performances than any one person could reasonably catch. But fear not: We polled our writers and editors and selected the 31 most promising tickets, adding up to one endlessly intriguing year of dance.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox