Justin Peck will choreograph the movie remake of West Side Story. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet.

Justin Peck to Choreograph New West Side Story Movie

Justin Peck has been tapped to choreograph Steven Spielberg's upcoming Hollywood reboot of West Side Story. And we ask, Can you think of anyone better suited for that job than the dancemaker who's been following in many of Jerome Robbins' footsteps?


Let's review:

  • Choreograph for New York City Ballet: check.
  • Choreograph for Broadway: check.
  • Snag a Tony for Best Choreography: check.
  • Oh, and choreograph a film version of West Side Story: on it.

Peck, sir, you are well on your way. While we realize that Robbins' and Peck's choreographic styles are nowhere near carbon copies (nor do we want them to be), we love that someone with such a fresh balletic-meets-theatrical bent will be responsible for WSS' latest iteration. (This film version is not to be confused with the upcoming Broadway revival, which will by choreographed by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker.)

And while Peck's works are now a "new norm" in ballet programming across the country, it's worth remembering that his first work debuted less than a decade ago in 2009. Talk about a dream-come-true trajectory. In a press release, Peck said, "Getting a chance to work alongside such an illustrious and inspiring team to present a West Side Story for today's audience is something I never imagined I would experience. The original West Side Story was one of the guiding forces that led me to dance in the first place, so I feel very honored on a deeply personal level."

A very early Robbins' sneaker ballet scene from the 1961 movie

The film doesn't yet have a release date, so that means there's plenty of time to speculate exactly what a WSS for today's audience will look like. We're looking forward to Peck's 21st-century sneaker-ballet style, but we're also hoping for some major nods to Robbins' original iconic choreography á la big numbers like "Cool" and "Dance at the Gym."

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AMDA students learn how to present their best selves on camera. Photo by Trae Patton, Courtesy AMDA

AMDA's 4 Tips for Acing Your Next Audition

Ah, audition day. The flurry of new choreography, the long lines of dancers, the wait for callbacks. It's an environment dancers know well, but it can also come with great stress. Learning how to be best prepared for the big day is often the key to staying calm and performing to your fullest potential (and then some).

This concept is the throughline of the curriculum at American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where dance students spend all four years honing their audition skills.

"You're always auditioning," says Santana Trujillo, AMDA's dance outreach manager and a graduate of its BFA program. On campus in Los Angeles and New York City, students have access to dozens of audition opportunities every semester.

For advice on how dancers can put their best foot forward at professional auditions, Dance Magazine recently spoke with Trujillo, as well as AMDA faculty members Michelle Elkin and Genevieve Carson. Catch the whole conversation below, and read on for highlights.

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July 2021