It's A Family Affair

Regina and Melina Willoughby

The phrase “like mother, like daughter” could not be more appropriate for the Columbia City Ballet this season! Mother of two, Regina Willoughby (40), and her youngest daughter Melina Willoughby (18), will be dancing the Nutcracker side by side this year.

The pair are both members of CCB, and their story is rare in the most marvelous way. Regina decided to start having children at age 19, and after she had her two girls, she found her way back to dancing. Melina followed in her mother’s footsteps and has now made her way to the company as a trainee. But while this is Melina’s first season with CCB, it will be her mother’s last.

For one year only, the power couple will share the stage during Snow Scene and Arabian. While her mother performs Snow Queen, Melina will be able to watch her from her spot in the corps de ballet. The two are also very close (talk about #mom/daughtergoals), and they are both trying to treasure this rare opportunity together.

So pardon us while we call our moms real quick. And no that’s not a tear, it’s just something in our eye.

"The Greatest Showman" Shows Off Its Moves

The Greatest Showman

"The Greatest Showman," coming to theaters December 20, is an original musical that revolves around P.T. Barnum, the man behind Barnum & Bailey circus. It was extremely popular in the mid-twentieth century - so popular, in fact, that people started calling it the greatest show on earth (hence the movie title!).

The film follows Barnum, played by Hugh Jackman, as he brings together performers for his new show. Zendaya plays a trapeze artist, and Zach Efron also stars as a circus performer.

There's going to be plenty of dancing thanks to Australian choreographer Ashley Wallen. Wallen brings years of experience to the film, as he also choreographed the U.K. version of "Ghost: The Musical" and has also worked as resident dance captain on The X Factor.

In an interview with Dance Spirit, Wallen gave readers a sneak peek at what viewers can look for in the film. Expect to see a mixture of classic musical theater and old movie style movement, with a little bit of pop and commercial dance thrown in. Since it's a period film, he wanted it to a throwback while still remaining engaging for current audiences.

The dancers on the film have a mixture of backgrounds, many of them jazz and hip hop. And the stars who had less formal dance training rehearsed hard in preparation for filming!

Will you be seeing the film when it hits theaters? Leave us a comment below!

Peter Martins is in Over His Head

Peter Martins

Mr. Martins, director of the New York City Ballet, is under severe scrutiny for misconduct allegations. The 71 year old ballet master has been accused of sexual harassment, and has chosen to take a leave of absence while the situation unfolds.

The New York Times reported that an anonymous letter was sent to the company, making widespread claims of sexual harassment in regards to Peter Martins. The school and company have responded in haste, making it clear that the situation will be thoroughly investigated. According to the School of American Ballet, “The safety and well-being of our students is our absolute priority.”

In the meantime, other stories are surfacing of Martins’ misconduct. In 1992 he was charged with third degree assault against his (now ex) wife Darci Kistler, who was a Principal for the company at the time. The charges were eventually dropped, but other dancers claim to have been abused by Peter Martins; the Washington Post recently ran a story where former dancer Kelly Boal claims Martins grabbed her throat. Not to mention he was arrested in 2011 for driving under the influence.

So while Mr. Martin takes a leave of absence, investigations will begin. What will become of the leader of City Ballet, and will more stories surface?

Jazz it Up with Christina Woodard

Christina Woodard, dance instructor on danceplug.com

We are pleased to welcome our newest instructor Christina Woodard. Christina is a teacher and choreographer whose talent is sought after all over the world. She has spent years studying anatomy, and her passion for strength, stretching and proper placement deeply influences her classes.

Her film and TV credits are extensive, and include:  iCARLY (Nickelodeon), Motion City Soundtrack, The Steve Harvey Show (WB), Suddenly Susan with Brooke Shields (WB), and FAME (Sony). You can also catch her in advertisements for companies like Disney, Nestle and Nike. Christina also choreographs on the show "Victorious" with Victoria Justice on Nickelodeon.

Christina is currently based in LA, and also teaches at EDGE Performing Arts Center, Groove Street Dance Conventions and Dance Masters of America. She also travels and teaches all over the country.

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