‘West Aspect Story’ choreographer shares the insider secrets at the rear of the new dances

Dancing in the streets of NYC, items acquired muy caliente filming Steven Spielberg’s new “West Aspect Story,” which strike theaters Friday.

In truth, the sweltering heat and humidity led Ariana DeBose — who performs Nuyorican Anita — to have a one of a kind form of wardrobe malfunction even though hoofing it up on the steamy pavement in the course of “America.”

“Her shoes actually melted,” choreographer Justin Peck, 34, advised The Article of the fiery combustion that took spot during the summer of 2019. “She had to have her sneakers replaced two or three moments while we had been filming these dance sections since it was so incredibly hot and the choreography was so intensive that it pretty much melted [the soles of] her shoes.”

Taking pictures the musical’s display-stopping dance number in temps that occasionally strike triple digits was just just one of the worries that Peck faced in updating Jerome Robbins’ legendary, Oscar-winning choreography from the 1961 movie traditional (which itself was tailored from the 1957 Broadway creation).

Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Mary (Rachel Zegler) share a dance in their very first meeting in “West Facet Story.”
©20th Century Studios/Courtesy

“It was surely a overwhelming endeavor to consider on reimagining ‘West Side Story’ simply because the primary is so legendary,” reported Peck, who is also the resident choreographer at the New York Metropolis Ballet. “What was so fascinating for me about doing the job on this undertaking is that the screenplay that Tony Kushner wrote definitely recontextualizes a good deal of the dance quantities. It sets them up in distinct methods … and that requires a new acquire on what the choreography is. A whole lot of times it meant making completely authentic choreography.”

In truth, “America,” which took area on a rooftop at evening in the original motion picture, now goes down during the daytime on the streets of NYC. Following months of rehearsal, the dazzling sequence was filmed in excess of about 10 times in Harlem, Queens, and Paterson, NJ. 

Ariana Dubose (left) plays Anita in the 2021 reboot of "West Side Story," a role originally held by Rita Moreno (right) in 1961.
Ariana Dubose (left) plays Anita in the 2021 reboot of “West Aspect Story,” a job at first held by Rita Moreno (ideal) in 1961.

“It reveals Anita and Bernardo [David Alvarez] weaving and winding via their local community in New York City,” mentioned Peck. “It raises in scale incrementally right until you get to the pretty end when it is practically, like, 60 or 70 dancers in the centre of an intersection with about 200 or 300 extras encompassing that area and 12 8-to-11-calendar year-previous children who have to wade by way of all this.”

Peck also completely revamped the “Cool” choreography, which initially featured the full Jets gang. In the new movie, it’s a toe-tapping tête-à-tête amongst Tony (Ansel Elgort) and Riff (Mike Faist) shot on the Sunset Park waterfront in Brooklyn.

Steven Spielberg and Justin Peck on the set of "West Side Story"
Choreographer Justin Peck (ideal) will work out a scene with director Steven Spielberg on the set of “West Aspect Story.”
Niko Tavernise

“It becomes this type of dialogue in between Riff and Tony as Tony attempts to ‘cool’ Riff down,” Peck reported. “It turns into this duel as they type of struggle for handle more than this gun … The movement by itself is very athletic, really hazardous. It has grace to it, but it is also very action-packed and combative.” 

But amidst all the reimagining of Robbins’ vision, Peck also desired to pay back homage to the groundbreaking moves in the initial movie that leapt him into action. He very first viewed the authentic “West Facet Story” when he was 10 yrs outdated, and it motivated him to go after a occupation in dance.

“In ‘America,’ there’s this moment where the girls flare their skirts in a quite special way that honors the initial choreography,” he mentioned. “And there ended up other moments, like when Tony and Maria [Rachel Zegler] are beneath the bleachers and they dance together for the first time. That tiny instant the place they bent their knees and then snapped their fingers is a direct kind of quotation of the initial.”

Ariana DeBose and David Alvarez in "West Side Story"
Ariana DeBose (Anita) and David Alvarez (Bernardo) hoof it up on the streets of NYC in “West Aspect Story.”
Niko Tavernise

And Peck had a incredibly exclusive consultant in Rita Moreno, who received an Oscar for participating in Anita in the first movie. In the new movie, she plays a distinct character, Valentina, and also serves as an government producer. 

“She was on established all the time … and she became a really near ally to me during this method,” he reported. “She’s a firm believer in the electricity of dance expression. So I’m really grateful that she was a part of this and that she could share her knowledge and her encouragement.”