May 7, 2008

Dance Magazine's 25 to Watch in 2008

A classmate from Tap class pointed this out to me. In the January 2008 issue of Dance Magazine they listed the 25 to Watch in Dance.....Who will be great in '08. Broadway people made it to the list! Yay!

NATALIE CORTEZ Fierce and feisty Bronx-born Diana Morales doesn’t seem to break a sweat when knocking out routines for her audition. Neither does native New Yorker Natalie Cortez, 29, the triple threat who plays Diana in the current revival of A Chorus Line on Broadway. “She’s pretty tough; I’m pretty tough. She’s stubborn; I’m stubborn. She has this incredible love for what she does,” Cortez says of her character. And that love surges toward the audience when Cortez dances. Whether you’re in the front row or up in the balcony, Cortez gets to you. Her “pas-de-bourĂ©e kick-ball-change” courses through the opening number. For a compact 5' 3" dancer, her extensions are remarkable. Among a cast of seasoned dancers like Charlotte d’Amboise, Cortez never fades into the background. The gymnast-turned-jazz dancer who didn’t care for ballet fell for modern when she first attended the American Dance Festival. She studied musical theater at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts CAP program, and after getting cast in many non-Broadway shows, this role is her big break. And, in true Morales style, she’s not backing down. “I’m going to stick around for A Chorus Line as long as my body will let me.” —Emily Macel

Check out her video here.

KENDRICK JONES There’s a nonchalance to Kendrick Jones, a natural elegance that makes his virtuoso tapping seem like a mere tip of the hat. He blazed through the Encores! concert staging of Stairway to Paradise last year, wowing critics with his grace and sophistication. The New York Times’ Ben Brantley called him “the most exquisitely expressive young tap dancer since Savion Glover.” Yet Jones, 22, is a throwback, a hoofer who owes his classic style more to tap’s heyday than its hard-hitting renaissance. It’s no surprise Gregory Hines was a mentor as well as an idol. Hines took the 14-year-old dancer from Flint, MI, under his wing, paid for tap festival scholarships, and urged him to become a triple threat. Heeding Hines’ advice, Jones decided last fall to return to school and complete his BA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts for musical theater and acting. He’ll continue to perform occasional gigs in NYC while going to school. “I want to emulate that smooth, sportin’-life style of Gregory’s,” Jones says. “He was like Sammy Davis Jr. and John Bubbles. I like the hoofin’ that people do now, but those old timers’ grace moves me more.” Heading back to the future with Jones will be an smooth trip. —Hanna Rubin

NOAH RACEY Lanky and low-key, Broadway dancer Noah Racey has a quiet charm that creeps up slowly on audiences. So do the dance numbers he choreographs. Racey, singled out for his roles in Never Gonna Dance and Curtains, has a passion for creating old-time Broadway showstoppers. He has found a home in Town Hall’s popular “Broadway by the Year” series, where he’s resident choreographer. “I want the audience to feel entertained,” he says. “I don’t want them to analyze or scrutinize—I want them to be joyful.” Racey’s choreography for “All Singin’, All Dancin’,” last summer’s musical salute there, had his disarmingly casual stamp. For one number, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” Racey and four other male tappers provided beats and body percussion as singer/dancer Joyce Chittick, accompanied only by a cello, sinuously inched across the stage and through Cole Porter’s yearning lyrics. As she glided off, down came the house. The revue’s classic style and spirit caught the eye of director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell, who’s teaming up with Racey to workshop it this spring with an eye to a Broadway transfer. Racey isn’t ready to hang up his taps yet, though. “I’m stuck with the rhythm bug,” he says. Lucky for us, we’re stuck with Racey—’cause we’ve got him under our skin. —Hanna Rubin


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