And the Cast of the New "West Side Story" Movie Is...
Something's coming, I don't know when
But it's soon...maybe tonight?
Those iconic lyrics have basically been our #mood ever since we first heard a remake of the West Side Story film, directed by Steven Spielberg and choreographed by Justin Peck, was in the works. THE CASTING. THE CASTING WAS COMING.
Well, last night—after an extensive search process that focused on finding the best actors within the Puerto Rican/Latinx community—the WSS team finally revealed who'll be playing Maria, Anita, Bernardo, and Chino (joining Ansel Elgort, who was cast as Tony last fall). And you guys: It is a truly epic group.
First, the danciest roles. Our new Anita is the unstoppable Ariana DeBose, whose impressive Broadway credits include the original cast of Hamilton (she was "The Bullet") and Disco Donna in Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, for which she earned a Tony nom last year. You already know how we feel about DeBose: She graced our July/August 2016 cover!
Taking on Bernardo is David Alvarez, aka one of the original Billys in Billy Elliot on Broadway. Alvarez's sensitive, nuanced, technically polished (he trained at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School) take on Billy stunned critics back in 2009. Afterward, he took some time off from performing to serve in the military. We're eager to see how he's grown and evolved as an artist.
Who's Maria? That'd be 17-year-old Rachel Zegler, a high school student from New Jersey who's about to be very, very famous. (Her Instagram following jumped by thousands overnight.) And playing Chino is Josh Andres Rivera, a true triple threat with a BFA from Ithaca College, who most recently appeared in the Hamilton national tour.
Congrats to all these talented artists!
Michele Byrd-McPhee's uncle was a DJ for the local black radio station in Philadelphia, where she was born. As a kid she was always dancing to the latest music, including a new form of powerful poetry laid over pulsing beats that was the beginning of what we now call hip hop.
Byrd-McPhee became enamored of the form and went on to a career as a hip-hop dancer and choreographer, eventually founding the Ladies of Hip-Hop Festival and directing the New York City chapter of Everybody Dance Now!. Over the decades, she has experienced hip hop's growth from its roots in the black community into a global phenomenon—a trajectory she views with both pride and caution.
On one hand, the popularity of hip hop has "made a global impact," says Byrd-McPhee. "It's provided a voice for so many people around the world." The downside is "it's used globally in ways that the people who made the culture don't benefit from it."
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:
Every dancer knows there's as much magic taking place backstage as there is in what the audience sees onstage. Behind the scenes, it takes a village, says American Ballet Theatre's wig and makeup supervisor, Rena Most. With wig and makeup preparations happening in a studio of their own as the dancers rehearse, Most and her team work to make sure not a single detail is lost.
Dance Magazine recently spoke to Most to find out what actually goes into the hair and makeup looks audiences see on the ABT stage.