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?
- 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."
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."
Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.