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The Royal Ballet's Francesca Hayward Is Feline Purrfection in the New "CATS" Trailer

Courtesy Universal Pictures

What do you get when you add Royal Ballet principal Francesca Hayward, Taylor Swift, Hamilton choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, CGI fur technology, giant sets and unitards galore? The answer is the new CATS film, scheduled for major release December 20, 2019.


The official trailer has just dropped, and it's even bigger, furrier and more dance-filled than we ever could have imagined. Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1981 musical is based on T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, and tells the strange tale of the Jellicles, a tribe of cats tasked with deciding which of them will ascend to Heaviside Layer (roughly translated as cat heaven) and return to a new life. It was restaged for film in 1998. This new remake, directed by Tom Hooper of Les Misérables fame, is overflowing with Hollywood stars. In addition to Swift, the cast includes James Corden, Idris Elba, Rebel Wilson, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen and Jennifer Hudson, who sings "Memory," the show's best-known song.

But of course, we're most excited for the dancing. Hayward makes her feature film debut as the white cat Victoria, and if this trailer is any indication, we'll get to see plenty of her leggy brilliance (check out 0:36 and 0:48 for a sneak peek). The film also features former NYCB principal Robbie Fairchild as Munkustrap, Royal Ballet principal Steven McRae and former soloist Eric Underwood, hip hop duo Les Twins and CATS on Broadway veteran Kolton Krouse.

Check out the trailer below meow! (Sorry we couldn't help ourselves.)

Ballet Careers
Lenai Alexis Wilkerson. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Michelle Tabnick Public Relations.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Lenai Alexis Wilkerson graduated from University of Southern California with a BFA in dance (dance performance concentration) and a political science minor in 2019.

As Lenai Alexis Wilkerson looked at colleges, she wanted a school that would prepare her for two totally different professions: dancing and law. "I knew, pretty much when I was 16, that I wanted to go to law school," she says. "So I wanted the opportunity to have a dual college experience, where I could have a conservatory training style within a university and I could focus equally on my academics." When she auditioned for the inaugural class of University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, she knew it was the right fit.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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News
Nicolas Pelletier in Carmina Burana. Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

Last week, Colorado Ballet interrupted Nutcracker rehearsals for an exciting announcement: Four dancers were being promoted. Though all made the jump from the company's corps de ballet, Nicolas Pelletier ascended directly to the rank of soloist, while Sean Omandam, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch were promoted to demi-soloist. This news comes hot on the heels of last August's promotion of Francisco Estevez to principal.

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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