This Beyoncé Choreographer Has the Most Relatable Cross-Training Routine
Even if you haven't heard her name, you've almost certainly seen the work of commercial choreographer James Alsop. Though she's made award-winning dances for Beyoncé ("Run the World," anyone?) and worked with stars like Lady GaGa and Janelle Monae, Alsop's most recent project may be her most powerful: A moving music video for Everytown for Gun Safety, directed by Ezra Hurwitz and featuring students from the National Dance Institute.
We caught up with Alsop for our "Spotlight" series:
What do you think is the most common misconception about dancers?
That we are not athletes. I think because there is this beauty, grace and poise that comes along with dance, some people still try to discount the fact that we train ruthlessly. It would be great to see the art of dance respected equally.
What other career would you like to try?
Acting. I can't see myself doing something unrelated to performance. Performing is too deep in my blood.
What's the most-played song on your phone?
"Made For Now" by Janet Jackson
What was the last dance performance you saw?
A hip-hop competition in Boston called Bring Da Hype. It was so edgy and all the dancers were so raw and hungry. My love for dance was reinvigorated by the youth of it.
Do you have a pre-performance ritual?
Close my eyes and whisper the most intimate prayer.
Where can you be found two hours after a performance ends?
Trying to find music to keep dancing. The high from being on stage is still so strong that I have to keep it going.
What's your favorite book?
Terry McMillan's A Day Late and A Dollar Short. I have probably read it 6000 times.
Where did you last vacation?
My favorite place on Earth: San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Who is the person you most want to dance with—living or dead?
Janet Jackson, Debbie Allen and Bob Fosse.
What app do you spend the most time on?
Much like the rest of the world, I unfortunately spend the most time on Instagram. It's literally tantalizing. I'm addicted.
What's the first item on your bucket list?
To buy something major or pay a huge bill off for my parents. I owe them everything.
What's your go-to cross-training routine?
I am the absolute worst and have never cross-trained in my entire life. I have never even had a gym membership. So my routine is trying my hardest to avoid the Taco Bell drive-thru!
If you could relive one performance, what would it be?
The 2011 Billboard Music Awards performance of "Run The World" by Beyoncé. It was the first time I got to work on an awards show as a choreographer and I learned so much by being a part of such a huge performance.
What's the worst advice you've ever received?
I don't think I have ever received any bad advice. I can't remember a time when someone tried to help and it not be for my benefit.
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.
You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)
Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of: