Chita Rivera as Anita

Fred Fehl, Courtesy DM Archives

#TBT: How West Side Story Created a Broadway Revolution

When West Side Story landed on Broadway in 1957, it had been a long time coming.

Director-choreographer Jerome Robbins, writer Arthur Laurents and composer Leonard Bernstein toyed with collaborating on a contemporary musical loosely based on Romeo and Juliet for years, picking up and putting down the project multiple times as other creative endeavors demanded their attention. Along the way, they brought in a young lyricist who had never written for Broadway by the name of Stephen Sondheim, and the story morphed into one of gang violence in New York City.

A young Stephen Sondehim, dressed in a white button down and a tie, smirks as he sits at an open piano covered in sheet music. Leonard Bernstein leans against it, listening, while a half dozen young women arrayed around them listen to corrections.

Lyricist Stephen Sondheim at the piano, composer Leonard Bernstein and members of the cast

Zodiac Photographers, Courtesy DM Archives

"It's funny how insulated we are," Robbins said of his research in the August 1957 issue of Dance Magazine. "My office is on Lexington Avenue and 74th Street, and just twenty blocks away life is entirely different. The streets are darker, the signs are in Spanish, and the people lead their lives on the sidewalks. Those kids live like pressure cookers. There's a constant tension, a feeling of the kids having steam that they don't know how to let off."

The resulting musical reshaped Broadway. It garnered six Tony nominations and won two (Robbins for choreography, Oliver Smith for scenic design), launched the now-legendary Chita Rivera (who originated the role of Anita) to stardom, and proved just how effective dance could be at telling a story.

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Courtesy Bloch

The BLOCHspot + Alcyone Sneaker Are What Dancers Actually Need in 2021

Almost a year later and...yep, we're still in a global pandemic. As COVID-19 drags on, your pre-pandemic footwear is probably on its last legs by now (if it was ever up to dancing all day on floors that aren't sprung). And even when we do finally return to the stage, dancing in non-traditional spaces is a trend that's likely to stick around. Sporting a new pair of kicks designed specially for dancers might be just the boost you need to meet the dance world's "new normal" head-on.

Here, everything you need to know about the next-generation sneaker and handy spin spot that'll make this spring feel like the fresh start dancers deserve.

February 2021