Behind the Scenes with the Little Orphans of "Annie"

Andy Blankenbuehler working with Annie's Emily Rosenfeld and Georgi James Andy Blankenbuehler working with Annie's Emily Rosenfeld and Georgi James

Some of the year’s biggest Broadway hits, from Matilda to A Christmas Story, are powered by pint-sized stars. This Friday, PBS debuts a documentary featuring the feisty, pre-teen cast of Annie.

“ANNIE: It's the Hard-Knock Life, From Script to Stage” focuses on the details of prepping a single musical number—"Hard-Knock Life"—for performance, starting with casting and continuing through costuming, set designs, choreography, rehearsal and finally opening night.

Annie choreographer and Tony nominee Andy Blankenbuehler makes an appearance, helping the girls get into scrappy, rebellious character. The documentary's title song rings true, he says, to every underdog who has ever felt pushed down, himself included. "I've had that song in my head my whole life," he jokes.

Watch this preview of ecstatic child actors accepting their first big roles, then check your local listings for air times!

Watch Casting "Annie" Orphans on PBS. See more from ANNIE: It's the Hard-Knock Life, From Script to Stage.

Photo courtesy of WNET

Courtesy Meg Brooker

As the presidential election approaches, it's a particularly meaningful time to remember that we are celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment, when women earned the right to vote after a decades-long battle.

Movement was more than a metaphor for the fight for women's suffrage—dancers played a real role, most notably Florence Fleming Noyes, who performed her riveting solo Dance of Freedom in 1914 to embody the struggle for women's rights.

This fall, Middle Tennessee State University director of dance Meg Brooker is reconstructing Dance of Freedom on 11 of her students. A Noyes Rhythm teacher and an Isadora Duncan scholar, Brooker is passionate about bringing historic dance practices into a contemporary context.

Keep reading... Show less
Teaching Tips
Justin Boccitto teaches a hybrid class. Photo courtesy Boccitto

Just as teachers were getting comfortable with teaching virtual classes, many studios are adding an extra challenge into the mix: in-person students learning alongside virtual students. Such hybrid classes are meant to keep class sizes down and to give students options to take class however they're comfortable.

But dividing your attention between virtual students and masked and socially distant in-person students—and giving them each a class that meets their needs—is no easy feat.

Dance Teacher asked four teachers what they've learned so far.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
All photos by Ryan Heffington

"Annnnnnnd—we're back!"

Ryan Heffington is kneeling in front of his iPhone, looking directly into the camera, smiling behind his bushy mustache. He's in his house in the desert near Joshua Tree, California, phone propped on the floor so it stays steady, his bright shorty shorts, tank top and multiple necklaces in full view. Music is already playing—imagine you're at a club—and soon he's swaying and bouncing from side to side, the beat infusing his bones.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.