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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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020