News

Justin Peck Directed and Choreographed 10 Short Films for This Year's Top Movie Stars

We already knew that Justin Peck is a crossover superstar. His accolades from this past year alone include a Tony Award for best choreography for Carousel, a performance on The Tonight Show with The National, and plans to choreograph Steven Spielberg's upcoming West Side Story remake. Today, he proves himself all over again with a series of short films for The New York Times Magazine titled "Let's Dance," featuring some of 2018's most lauded movie stars. You can see these videos here, including an augmented-reality experience available to those with newer iPhones or iPads.


Part of The New York Times Magazines' Great Performers Series, Peck directed and choreographed these films with the help of two frequent collaborates: filmmaker Ezra Hurwitz and composer Caroline Shaw. Each roughly a minute long, the films star Julia Roberts, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Glenn Close, Regina Hall, Yoo Ah-In, Ethan Hawke, Elsie Fisher, Yalitza Aparicio, Emma Stone, Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz breaking into dance in the midst of quotidian scenarios (riding the subway, waking up, mopping the floor). "For the series, I set out to explore movement within the mundane," wrote Peck on Instagram. "Gestures drawn from the everyday. Ordinary acts that bubble up into fleeting moments of extraordinary grace, beauty, energy, dance."

Even with these simplified steps, it's easy to see Peck's signature pairing of natural fluidity with rhythmic intricacy. Many of the films' concepts, like Julia Robert's top-hatted soft-shoe routine, Elsie Fisher's youthful take on Singing in the Rain and Glenn Close's mop dance allude to Old Hollywood, when dance and film walked hand in hand. We've always appreciated Peck's ability to bring dance to broader audiences, particularly online, and this is no exception; we can't wait to see what will come next.

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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Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet Academy

When you're looking for a ballet program to take you to the next level, there are a lot of factors to consider. While it's tempting to look for the biggest name that will accept you, the savvy dancer knows that successful training has more to do with the attention and opportunities you'll get.

We put together a few of the most important things for dancers to look for in a summer or year-round training program, with the help of the experts at Colorado Ballet Academy:

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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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