Would You See a Gangster Ballet?

Sneaky Blinders

If you're a fan of the BBC, or crime shows (or both!), chances are you've heard of Peaky Blinders. The show, which is currently in production for its fifth season, has been immensely popular in the UK and the US. Set in Birmingham, England in the 1920's, it revolves around the Peaky Blinders gang, which is based on a real-life 19th century gang who were rumored to sew razor blades into their hats. The fictional crime family is lead by actor Cillian Murphy, and the earlier seasons featured actor Sam Neill as a detective working to keep them under control. There's crime, politics, and a lot of drama. In addition to having a large and devoted fan base, the show has also caught the attention of critics; it recently won Best Drama Series at the Bafta TV awards. 

Though it doesn't exactly sound like something to make a dance about, Rambert (formerly Ballet Rambert and Rambert Dance Company) is planning on doing just that! The creator of the TV show, Steven Knight, recently announced that the ballet company has approached him with the intention of creating a full-length ballet based on the seasons of the show. His response: "Why not?"

Rambert is based in London, made up of 20 dancers from all over the world, and travels and performs internationally. Founded by former Ballet Russes dance Marie Rambert, their first performance was back in 1926, and they hold the title of Britain's oldest dance company. 

Though there's no current ETA for the ballet, the show itself will run for at least three more seasons. Though I'm not totally sure how this crime drama will play out on the stage, their British heritage and history has certainly equipped them with the tools to take on the challenge! Stay tuned...

It's Misty's World & We're Just Living In It

Under Armour - Misty Copeland Collection

Misty Copeland keeps quite a busy schedule these days. As if being a principal at American Ballet Theater wasn't enough, she also models, is a public speaker and even recently wrote a book. Well, the queen of social justice and ballet magic has given us another reason to love her. She has just launched a new clothing line with Under Armour that is to die for! She's been modeling with them for several years, this is her first design collaboration with the company. The new activewear is fresh, functional, and chic as all get out. 

Misty has definitely made a name for herself over the years. Whether she’s dancing as the Fire Bird or gracing the general public with another book signing, the prima ballerina is making waves. She's viewed as a role model, particularly for young African American dancers, and she's beloved by many. And we're guessing that her new workout wear will be just as adored as she is. 

Misty Copeland's active wear line with Under Armour
Under Armour - Misty Copeland Collection

The line is meant to go from rehearsal to afternoon brunch with ease - throw on one of her athletic dresses for a day of activity and design. Or, put on a pair of the perforated lace leggings for a dance class followed by evening drinks with the pals. The line is versatile, feminine, and edgy, just like Misty. She understands that dancers live busy lives, and we need clothes that can keep up with our schedules. On the Under Armour website, Misty says: "If I could sum this collection up in three words, it would be fun, flirty, and fierce." 

So what’s next? Misty’s home decor… Misty’s very own pointe shoe brand… or maybe Misty’s own sandwich shop? Honestly, I bet they would sell like a Discount Dance sale right before summer intensive season. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, happy shopping!

Why Isn't Tap At The Top?

photo by Joe Lambie - DancePlug Inc.

With National Tap Dance Day approaching (mark your calendar for May 25!), we thought it was about time we talked tap. In many studios - mine included - ballet, jazz, and even hip-hop were all emphasized. I've noticed that it's not uncommon for studio owners to require their students to take a certain amount of classes and dance styles in order to compete. You have to slip on your ballet shoes, pull on those jazz shoes, and lace up your sneakers… but what about tap shoes? Is this timeless style of dance being sidestepped?

In many ways, tap dancing is doing well in the performance sector, bolstering tours by hoofers such as Michelle Dorrance and Savion Glover. However, there are definitely signs that it is underappreciated. In a recent interview with Dance Magazine, tap dancing pros Derick K. Grant, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, and Jason Samuels Smith sat down to chat as they were preparing for the first annual Tap Family Reunion, a three-day celebration they've organized in NYC. They want to bring tap back to its purest form, without any other dance styles like contemporary or hip-hop mixed in. Says Grant: "Tap as it is, for what it is, doesn't seem to be enough" to get funded or supported nowadays.

I feel it's true that styles like contemporary have taken over with a sense of dominance that is undeniable, particularly in studios and universities around the country. But why is this happening? Tap is one of the oldest most well-known dance styles in the world… should it not get the rep it deserves?

Here's one possible explanation - mmm, it’s crazy difficult! Think about it; you start when you’re four or five, develop some of the fundamentals, and the minute it gets challenging, half of us bounce. I know I quit somewhere between 'off to Buffalo' and the 'time step'. Let’s be honest, this style is not for the faint of heart, or the easily defeated. You need to acquire spot-on timing, laid-back coordination, and a natural sense of rhythm that only a few of us are blessed with! The good news is, this can all be learned, and it's important for us to find ways to encourage the younger generation to stick it out. Perhaps educating our friends and students on the history of tap, and showing them classic films featuring powerhouses Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ann Miller, Eleanor Powell, Sammy Davis Jr., Gregory Hines, and so many more, might help?

"Some of these young tap dancers I see, they have the potential to be leaders beyond tap dance in the world in general," Smith told Dance Magazine. "I think tap is one of the ways these positive messages of enlightenment are going to be carried on." Hopefully, if we all work together to prioritize keeping this important dance form alive, more strong-willed young-ins will bring their talents to the table, and be the next unstoppable generation of tappers.

photo by Joe Lambie - © DancePlug, Inc.

Mackenzie Ziegler's Book Is Now On The Advice Shelves

Mackenzie Ziegler - Mackenzie's Rules for Life: How to be Happy, Healthy, and Dance to Your Own Beat

At only 14 years old, Mackenzie Ziegler has quite a resume. Though you probably know her from her six-year run on the Lifetime show Dance Moms, she's much more than Maddie Ziegler's little sis. She's acted in a sitcom, modeled for Polo Ralph Lauren, released an album called Mack Z in 2014, and toured the world with singer Johnny Orlando. She's also got over 10 million Instagram followers, and 2 million subscribers on YouTube. As if that wasn't enough, last year she also released a line of active wear for tween store Justice. She's a busy young lady!

Well, as of yesterday, she's added published author to that already impressive list! Her new book Mackenzie's Rules for Life: How to be Happy, Healthy, and Dance to Your Own Beat is now available in stores. In it, the little star talks about her life growing up in front of the camera, and offers advice for young dancers on topics like fitness, family, and personal style. 

 How to be Happy, Healthy, and Dance to Your Own Beat
Mackenzie's Rules for Life: How to be Happy, Healthy, and Dance to Your Own Beat

Ziegler wanted to convey a really positive message for young readers, impressing the importance of being confident in who you are and always following your dreams. In an interview with TeenVogue, Mackenzie had this to say: 

"Growing up and trying to find your way in this world can be tough. I am still figuring it out myself. I feel like it will really help kids with how to be more confident with themselves...[it's] the most exciting experience that I've done. Dancing and singing are definitely not anything like writing a book, and I think the book is more of me, and telling kids how to look on the bright side and be more confident with themselves."

The book is available in bookstores and on Amazon now, and seems like it will be a great summer read for any young dancer!