“Sleep No More” Performers Claim Assault By Audience Members

“Sleep No More” is one of New York’s most creative and iconic shows. Created by London-based theater company Punchdrunk and currently managed by Emersive, it’s an interactive and otherworldly experience in a renovated warehouse in Chelsea dubbed “The McKittrick Hotel.”

“Sleep No More” is a (very) loose and artistic interpretation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Audience members (who often pay upwards of $100 per ticket) begin their experience in a smoky, sexy bar where they are encouraged to purchase drinks and suspend their knowledge of reality. Everyone receives a playing card upon entry, and your hand determines when you are allowed to enter the performance space. Donning white masks, audience members are encouraged to wander throughout the extensive set, exploring whatever rooms they please (from a 1940’s hotel lobby to a foggy graveyard), following Macbeth and his compatriots. Performers interact with individuals, breaking the fourth wall and even sometimes pulling them aside for a private monologue performance.

However, the magical atmosphere has led to some issues. Buzzfeed has released an in-depth report showing that several dancers and actors have reported being sexually assaulted by audience members. Performers - some of which perform nude, or nearly nude - have filed multiple reports of assault; these reports range from audience members aggressively following them when they are changing or undressing to groping their genitals during a performance.

One of the dancers speaking out may be familiar to you. Billy Bell, who was part of Season 6 and 7 of So You Think You Can Dance, has performed in “Sleep No More” as Boy Witch. Bell claims that he has been physically groped by audience members multiple times during his time with the show. And he’s not the only one - several others have come forward with similar claims.

Read the full article here (warning: content material not suitable for young audiences)

West Side Story to be Modernized?

West Side Story

Director Steven Spielberg is on the hunt for the next Tony, Maria, Anita, and Bernando. Why, you ask? For the remake of West Side Story, of course!

The award-winning musical will be redone and re-imagined by the infamous Spielberg, alongside screenwriter Tony Kushner. The iconic music, however, will be staying the same (probably a smart move, considering the world would probably have a cow if they messed with the music!). However, there will definitely be some changes. After all, the film was originally filmed in 1961, so there will certainly be an upgrade in terms of film quality. But who would dare try to recreate Jerome Robbins’ iconic original choreography?

Unfortunately, we don’t know who the choreographer will be for the new version, But they definitely have some big shoes to fill. If we’re being honest, the whole movie has some big shoes to fill. This iconic classic is complex, and people are very attached to it. The music, the acting, and the dancing needs to be on point. So, God-speed, Spielberg, and good luck...’cause you may need it!

Left Shark is Finally Speaking Out

Katy Perry at the Super Bowl XLIX

Happy Super Bowl weekend, Pluggers! Are you ready for the biggest football day of the year (aka the day of nothing but delicious snacks)? In honor of the festivities, we're throwing it back to Super Bowl XLIX.

Remember Left Shark, the star of the 2016 Halftime Show? Of course you do. During Katy Perry's performance, this guy stole the show with his creative and hilarious dance moves to Katy Perry's hit songs "Teenage Dream" and "California Girls". He quickly became a meme and treasured dance icon. Let's be honest - we are all Left Shark.

As it turns out, the man inside the costume was Bryan Gaw, who had been touring with Katy Perry for five years at the time of the Super Bowl. He posted on Instagram after the show, cementing his place in dance history forever (okay, maybe we're exaggerating, but come on - he's pretty great). Now, in a recent interview with NPR, he's given us some more details about the performance. Hang onto your hats, guys.

Though it looked like he was completely off the music and was not actually doing the choreography, in actuality, it was all PLANNED! That's right - though they did have some set choreography,  they were encouraged to bring their own energy to it. "I'm in a 7-foot blue shark costume. There's no cool in that. So what's the other option? Well, I'm gonna play a different character," said Gaw.

So there you have it. What's Gaw up to now? He's currently pursuing a career in hair styling. And yes - he does list "Left Shark" on his resume. #winning

Re-live the majesty here

Before Misty Copeland, There Was Raven Wilkerson

Raven Wilkerson & Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland is certainly a name you've heard before. She's everywhere - commercials, advertising campaigns, even movies. As the first African-American female principal dancer in ABT, Copeland is an inspiration for girls all over the world, particularly for females of color. But before she danced onto the scene, there were others paving the way. One of those dancers was Raven Wilkerson.

Born in 1935, Wilkerson became the first black ballerina to join the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo when she was just twenty years old. She toured with the company for six years, and faced racism and violence during her travels, particularly when the company performed in the southern United States.

Wilkerson has written a book called "Trailblazer", which is based on her career and experiences as a black dancer in the 1950's. It follows her through performances with not only Ballet Russes, but the Dutch National Ballet and New York City Opera. The book ends with her presenting flowers to Misty after her debut in ABT's Swan Lake.

Copeland has often referred to Wilkerson as her mentor, and recently wrote and published her own book called "Firebird." What wonderful examples of strong and powerful women - we can't wait to see more young dancers continue what they've started!