Ephraim Sykes in Ain't Too Proud as David Ruffin, one of The Temptations' lead singers. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy DKC/O&M
Ephraim Sykes has repeatedly proven that he's a standout dancer in Broadway shows like Hamilton, Motown and Newsies. But, boy, can he also sing.
As David Ruffin in Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations, he does both with such vigor that we had to know how he pulls off this famous Temptations frontman. "It requires everything," says Sykes, who was nominated today for outstanding male dancer in a Broadway show by the Chita Rivera Awards.
"Too Darn Hot" from Studio 54's Kiss Me, Kate. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy LSG Public Relations
When it comes to musicals, they sure don't make 'em like they used to. Case in point: When Kiss Me, Kate premiered in 1948, integrated musicals—shows that produced genuine emotions and had music and lyrics closely tied to the script, rather than comedies or revues—were still a fairly new trend. In fact, Kiss Me, Kate was Cole Porter's first stab at this structure. Fast forward to 2019, and it's hard not to notice that some numbers feel like they're barely related to the narrative.
Scratch your head all you want (Why are they singing and dancing again? And how exactly does itmove the plot forward?), but there's a major upside to this structure: It gave choreographer Warren Carlyle a lot of room to play when choreographing Studio 54's current revival.
Gabrielle Hamilton in John Heginbotham's dream ballet from Oklahoma! Photo by Little Fang Photo, Courtesy DKC/O&M
The connections dancers make in college are no joke. For recent alum Gabrielle Hamilton, working with guest choreographer John Heginbotham at Point Park University put her on the fast track to Broadway—not in an ensemble role, but as the lead dancer in one of this season's hottest tickets: Daniel Fish's arresting reboot of Oklahoma!
We caught up with Hamilton about starring in the show's dream ballet and her delightfully bizarre pre-show ritual.
Paloma Garcia-Lee has appeared on Broadway and in TV's "Fosse/Verdon" and will be in the new West Side Story film. Photo by Susan Stripling, Courtesy Garcia-Lee
I have a commitment, a romance, a love affair with dance, with the feeling that happens when the music and the steps so perfectly align and I can't help but get chills. That feeling when my partner and I are dancing as one, when everyone onstage feels the same heartbeat, when it's just me alone in my bedroom.
Let me start with a confession: Growing up, I was the type of dancer who believed that there was only one kind of real dance: Ballet! Everything else was for the unchosen ones; other dances were fabricated by humans for the large masses who were not selected by Terpsichore. Dance was human. Ballet was divine.
Fast forward 30 years. I'm the artistic director of Tulsa Ballet, and I now understand that ballet was just a step in the evolution of dance, a journey that started with the Homo sapiens and has taken us to Broadway and hip hop. Now, at age 57, I appreciate ballet but love contemporary dance. But my passion? It resides in Broadway!
At auditions, warm-up space may be limited for non-Equity dancers, says Sarah Cooper, here in Disney Dreams. Courtesy Sarah Cooper.
If you're looking for your first Broadway contract, getting your foot in the door is tricky. Auditions are structured to prioritize members of the Actors' Equity Association, the union for stage professionals. There are several ways to become a member: Sign a contract for an Equity show; be a member of a sister union, like AGMA or SAG-AFTRA; or accrue "Equity points" by working at specific theaters for at least 25 weeks. But in the meantime, dancers face serious challenges.
It was one of the most exciting times of my career. I was in the midst of creating the last installment of my trilogy on identity—ink—which would be my company's Kennedy Center debut, and just booked my first Broadway musical, Once On This Island. ink would premiere on December 2, and OOTI would open on December 3.
Personally, I was going through a bit of mourning. I had just turned 37 and was really doubting my abilities as a dancer. The work wasn't getting easier, and I felt like I would have to make a decision soon about whether to retire.
It was a lot to navigate—the highs of success, and the lows of inevitable change. Little did I know, nothing would compare to the life-threatening health issues I was about to battle in the midst of it all.
Broadway Dance Lab's Choreography Intensive. Photo by Whitney Browne
"Go to your choreographers" is the command, and ten 20-somethings sort themselves into two groups at either side of a studio at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in midtown Manhattan. On one side they become three students gossiping in a schoolroom as another enters alone; on the other, it's a guy sauntering into a club where three women are drinking at a table.
Emma Russo, 25, is in charge there, setting up a romance; across the space, Alexia Acebo, 22, is summoning a popularity contest. Both are working to the same jazzy instrumental version of "Pennies From Heaven."
Bouncing back and forth between the two story lines is Broadway choreographer (and Tony nominee) Josh Prince, asking questions, making suggestions, offering encouragement—half mentor, half mother hen.
Carol Channing in the original 1964 production of Hello, Dolly! Photo by Eileen Darby, Courtesy DM Archives.
The inimitable Carol Channing, best known for her role as the titular Hello, Dolly!, passed away today at 97.
Though she became a three-time Tony winner, Channing was born in Seattle, far from the Great White Way, in 1921. After growing up in San Francisco, she attended the famed Bennington College, studying dance and drama. She later told the university, "What Bennington allows you to do is develop the thing you're going to do anyway, over everybody's dead body." For Channing, that meant decades of fiery, comical performances, bursting with energy.
Yesterday, major Broadway news broke that's bound to make a lot of people happy: that is, Ryan Gosling fans, romance novel readers, "This Is Us" devotees and those who love crying during adorably sentimental movies.
The Notebook, based on Nicolas Sparks' bestselling book of the same name, is being made into a Broadway-bound musical.
Ari Groover (center) became a muse for Head Over Heels' movement style. Photo by Joan Marcus, courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown.
Earlier this year, Ari Groover faced the ultimate Broadway champagne problem: She was offered a contract for both Summer: The Donna Summer Musical and Head Over Heels. She ultimately chose Head Over Heels, and watching her in the show, it's easy to see why she's in such demand: Groover is a consummate storyteller, imbuing Spencer Liff's jaw-droppingly complicated choreography with seemingly endless energy and sly wit.
Mia Michaels has learned the power of inspiring those she works with. Here, rehearsing Rockettes. Photo courtesy MSG
Dancers are human, which means they're bound to make mistakes from time to time, both on and off the stage. But what happens when those mistakes burn bridges? In an industry so small, is it possible for choreographers and performers to recover?
In a moment of vulnerability, three-time Emmy Award winning choreographer Mia Michaels opened up to Dance Magazine about some of the bridges she herself has burned, the lengths she's gone to in order to rebuild and the peace she's made with the new direction her career has taken because of them. —Haley Hilton
Catch Robert Fairchild (center) in An American in Paris on PBS. Photo by Angela Sterling, Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown
What if we told you we could magically transport you to Broadway four times this month? For $0. Wanna go? Great.
Just tune in to PBS the next four Friday nights at 9 pm Eastern (check your local listings), because the network's "Great Performances" programming is tipping its hat to theater gems old and new. The following day, each show will be available for streaming here and through PBS apps. Here's what's on tap:
Carry the banner with the energetic cast of Newsies from your couch. Screenshot via Netflix.
Forget Netflix and chill. Here at Dance Magazine, we're more about Netflix and show tunes! Thanks to the internet, you can stream live recordings of hit musicals from the comfort of your own couch. We gathered the danciest shows available right now.
Steele relies on carbs for Broadway-worthy energy. Photo by Lee Gumbs, courtesy Steele
Ryan Steele has a simple rule for demanding days on Broadway:"I listen to my body," he says. "I have whatever I'm craving: If I need more protein, I go straight for that. If I'm tired, I know I need carbs."
This wasn't always Steele's approach. Growing up, shuttling between the studio and school meant relying on McDonald's and Burger King.