GLEE Was Written With Justin Timberlake In Mind + More News

Justin Timberlake (image via Depositphotos)

Some news items you might have missed:

Out: In a recent episode of the podcast And That’s What You REALLY Missed, GLEE creator Ryan Murphy revealed the role of Mr. Schuester (played by Matthew Morrison) was originally written with Justin Timberlake in mind. And the character was conceived as a meth addict… Continue reading “GLEE Was Written With Justin Timberlake In Mind + More News”

“Everybody Dance” Celebrates Joy Of Disabled Kids Who Dance

In my latest podcast episode, I chat with out writer/director Dan Watt about his new documentary, “Everybody Dance.” The film – a joyous, inspiring celebration of art and ambition – follows Bonnie Schlachte’s Ballet For All Kids dance studio in California.

As the name says, the studio teaches dance to all kids: all ages, all abilities and disabilities – including those with special needs like cerebral palsy or on the autistic spectrum. Continue reading ““Everybody Dance” Celebrates Joy Of Disabled Kids Who Dance”

Broadway Icon Ann Reinking Passes Away At 71

Ann Reinking in ‘All That Jazz’ (screen capture)

Tony Award-winning actress/dancer/choreographer Ann Reinking (Chicago, Fosse, Pippin, Sweet Charity, Over Here!) passed away Saturday night at the age of 71.

From Variety:

She is perhaps best known for playing Roxie Hart in 1977’s “Chicago,” replacing Gwen Verdon. She reprised the part when she returned for the 1996 revival of the famed production.

“The hope is that in rediscovering ‘Chicago,’ audiences will rediscover what theater was,” Reinking told The New York Times at the time of the show’s revival. “It was sophisticated, complicated, adult.”

Her work on the later “Chicago” ultimately earned her a Tony Award for best choreography.

Reinking was also the co-creator, co-director and co-choreographer for “Fosse,” a musical meant to showcase Fosse’s choreography. She created the project alongside Richard Maltby Jr. and Chet Walker. The musical was Reinking’s final bow on Broadway, as she served as a replacement ensemble member in 2001.

The Broadway revival of Chicago the Musical was an unexpected and thrilling part of my career on Broadway.

I had moved to Los Angeles to be with my husband Michael in 1996, thinking perhaps my dancing career was behind me. And then, on a whim, I went to an open call for replacements for Chicago the Musical in early 1998.

Over 300 dancers attended that call, and at the end of the day, I was one of ten left standing. Three days later, Ann and director Walter Bobbie were coming through LA and the ten of us were called back to show what we had to offer.

Four months later, I got a call asking me to join the national touring company that was playing in Los Angeles, and ultimately I was hired about a dozen times over the next 15 years to go into the Broadway and touring companies. Sometimes, it would be for a year, sometimes for a month as a temporary replacement.

And I know that was because of Ann. She trusted me over and over again to be a part of her thrilling choreography.

Imagine not only meeting one of your heroes but working with them. And learning from them. And dancing right alongside them.

Ann Reinking as Roxie Hart in the Broadway revival of Chicago (photo: Max Vadukul)

One of my most memorable times with Ann was during brushup rehearsals for the Broadway company’s second anniversary.

I vividly remember, and I’ve quoted her often, her saying that dance represents tradition – and that it’s our responsibility as dancers to pass steps and style on to the next generation.

The last time I saw Ann was during her run in FOSSE in the early 2000s. We chatted backstage in her dressing room after the performance. She was, of course, brilliant.

As we parted ways leaving the Broadhurst Theater, she asked in passing, “So, you’re in NYC for a while?” I said, “Yes.”

Of course, the next day, the casting folks called – per Ann’s request – and asked if I was available to go back into Chicago.

With Ann Reinking in 1998 celebrating the 2nd anniversary of CHICAGO on Broadway

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Annie.  For the inspiration, for the laughs, for the insight, and for your genius.

RIP Ann Reinking.

By the way, just to underscore how lucky I’ve been in my theater career, I’ve danced with all three of these great stars. Color me grateful.

Midday Brain Break: Adorable Wedding Flashmob Dance

(screen captures via Instagram)

Awww… It’s been a while since we saw a flash mob dance at a wedding – but today we get this little uplifting nugget.

Fitness guy Brock Dalgleish shared this clip from his beautiful wedding, which took place this past Sunday in Salt Lake City.

Dalgleish surprised his partner, Riley Jay, Brock with not one but two dance routines at the end of the ceremony.

Socially-distanced guests watched as the dancers knocked it out to Lady Gaga’s “Stupid Love” from her latest album, Chromatica.

“This was my dream come true,” Brock told his followers on TikTok. “Wedding flash mob with all of my people.”

On The 45th Anniversary Of ‘A Chorus Line’

Me as ‘Mark’ in the national touring company of A Chorus Line

“Who have you been with my son?”

Funny you should ask…

Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, listening to original Broadway cast recordings, I somehow discovered A Chorus Line.

It was dynamic and cool, and mysterious (“Give me somebody to dance for…”) and…..some stuff I didn’t understand (yet).

And then I saw the show on Broadway at the Shubert Theater and it flew by! Like the album on steroids. So fast!

And all the stories! Brilliant and raw and funny and, and, and, and somewhere up there, I saw…me.

Who would guess in a few years I’d be cast in the national tour company with the original Tony Award winner, Donna McKechnie? Directed by original cast member Baayork Lee?

The show became an enormously important part of my life. Not one performance went by that I didn’t look up to ‘the second balcony’ during the 11 o’clock number “What I Did For Love” and thank the universe for the ‘chance to dance.’

Today is, incredibly, the 45th anniversary of the opening night of A Chorus Line on Broadway. What an incredible gift this show has been to me.

From ‘Mark’ to ‘Bobby’ to directing the show and passing on what I learned from Donna, Baayork, Kay Cole (original ‘Maggie’), and my dear wonderful Thommie Walsh, I say thank you.

#whatididforlove

p.s. If you know the show, you know the monologue I quote to begin this post 😉

Tonight: Virtual Fire Island Dance Festival

2020 Virtual Fire Island Dance Festival (photo: Scott Shaw Photography)

What to watch tonight? Check this out 🙂

The charitable event of the Fire Island summer goes digital when the Virtual Fire Island Dance Festival streams an evening of celebrated dance at 7 pm Eastern on July 17, 2020.

The first-ever stream in the event’s 26-year history will feature world premieres of three new pieces and three beloved festival favorites. The festival is produced by and benefits Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Last year’s event – held on July 19-21 – raised a record-shattering $657,842 over three days.

The player below will go live as the stream begins, or you can click here to watch directly on YouTube.

This year’s virtual festival will include world premieres by modern tap dancer Ayodele Casel, one of The New York Times’ “Biggest Breakout Stars of 2019”; KEIGWIN + COMPANY Artistic Director Larry Kiegwin; and Stephen Petronio, artistic director of Stephen Petronio Company.

The stream also will feature past festival performances by Emmy Award nominee Al Blackstone; MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow Kyle Abraham and acclaimed dancer and choreographer Garrett Smith.

“Although we can’t gather together in The Pines, we’re thrilled to be able to invite our community to enjoy world-class dance performances online through the Virtual Fire Island Dance Festival,” said Denise Roberts Hurlin, founding director of Dancers Responding to AIDS.

While the stream is free, should you feel ‘moved’ to do so (see what I did there?), any donation large or small is definitely appreciated.

You can check out highlights from last year’s event below.

Daily Dance: Leap Of Dance Academy

From the Instagram account of the Leap of Dance Academy in Nigeria, a vocational ballet school that is dedicated to providing quality ballet education to indigenous students and young artists.

“With very little or no resources our kids are training to be the best they can,” reads the caption in part. “This is not to bring down anyone but to show their high level of dedication and commitment to our program.”

“Who wouldn’t be proud of them? What teacher wouldn’t pray for students who show/come to class with so much desire to learn? Kids who are ready to dance with or without conditions.”

 

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FACTS ABOUT OUR PROGRAM. Behind those fanciful in class beauty and costumes are lots and lots of backstage hard work. With very little or no resources our kids are training to be the best they can. This is not to bring down anyone but to show their high level of dedication and committments to our program. Who wouldn’t be proud of them? What teacher wouldn’t pray for students who shows/comes to class with so much desire to learn? Kids who are ready to dance with or without conditions. Imagine what more we could achieve if we have more?🙂 DMs for more information. #leapofdanceacademy #covid19 #donation #vocational #nigerianballetschool #travelingtutusincnigeria #danceacademy #danceeducation #weloveyou #growth #weloveourpartners #yeswecan #dancing #learning

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