Recommended: Nothing Like a Dame: Conversations with the Great Women of Musical Theater

By Eddie Shapiro

Oxford University Press; 384 pages; $39.95

Life on the Broadway stage, from an audience’s perspective, looks glamorous and exciting. But what about the stuff that goes on behind the scenes—the out-of-town tryouts that fizzle, the cattle-call auditions, the chronic injuries? In his 20 interviews with leading ladies of the stage, Eddie Shapiro offers a wide-ranging—and honest—taste of what it means to be a woman in today’s world of musical theater. His candid conversations with the likes of Bebe Neuwirth (Chicago, Sweet Charity) and Donna McKechnie (A Chorus Line, Company) alternately idolize and humanize the biggest female stage stars of the 20th and 21st centuries. Though Shapiro’s musical theater insider information is already formidable, he still extracts new tidbits from his subjects: Chita Rivera (West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie) mentions that Jerome Robbins taught her to act and not just dance onstage; Sutton Foster (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Shrek) recalls “bawling [her] eyes out naked in [her] dressing room” after Millie’s second preview, convinced she’d been terrible. Your Broadway-bound students will love reading about their favorite leading ladies, but bear in mind that a few of these divas can have quite the potty mouth (we’re looking at you, Patti LuPone).

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Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

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The author with Maurice Hines. Photo by Anthony R. Phillips, courtesy Hopkins

In March, prior to sheltering in place due to the coronavirus outbreak, my husband and I traveled from New York City to Miami to screen our award-winning documentary, Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back, at the Miami Film Festival.

Our star, Tony Award–nominated dancer and choreographer Maurice Hines joined us in Miami for the festival—stepping and repeating on the opening night red carpet, sharing anecdotes from his illustrious seven-decade career with local tap students, and holding court at a cocktail mixer with lively female fans.

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Haruko Photography, courtesy ABT

Gabe Stone Shayer may be American Ballet Theatre's newest soloist, but he never dreamed he'd be dancing with the company at all. Though he grew up in Philadelphia, his sights were always set on international ventures—especially The Bolshoi Ballet and The Royal Ballet.

Even in his early training, he was learning from Russian educators: Alexander Boitsov at Gwendolyn Bye Dance Center, and Alexei and Natalia Cherov, from the Koresh School of Dance. At age 13, he transferred to The Rock School for Dance Education, where he danced until his acceptance to The Bolshoi Ballet Academy at age 14. At 16, Shayer returned to spend his summer in the States and attended ABT's summer intensive—fully intent on going back to Bolshoi to continue his training in the fall. Four weeks in, he was offered a studio-company contract. "I was so surprised," Shayer says. "Having come of age in Russia, I was very Eurocentric. Of course ABT was on my radar, I just never imagined it was for me."

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