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Bad Boys of Dance’s Daniela Filippone talks playing a star-crossed lover in ‘Romeo and Juliet’

Daniela Filippone and James Boyd. Daniela Filippone and James Boyd perform in 'Romeo and Juliet.' Photo by Tana Hall.

By Stephanie Wolf of Dance Informa.

With graceful balletic lines, a romantic sensibility to her movement and an effervescent stage presence, Daniela Filippone is the quintessential Juliet. She’s been traveling all over Europe, dancing the iconic role in Bad Boys of Dance version of the Shakespearean classic. Thousands of miles from her current home base, Manhattan, the experience of touring and dancing for international audiences hasn’t been lost on the New Jersey native.

She opened up to Dance Informa about traveling abroad, playing the role of a star-crossed lover and what fuels her body and soul as a dancer and artist.

How did you first get involved with dance?

“My mom put me in ballet class when I was four. Before every class, I cried at the door to the studio and the teacher had to come coax me into the room. My mom says, once I was inside, I was fine. Within two years, I started to get noticed for my feet and flexibility. Getting that positive attention lured me into the dance world.”

For advice on dealing with children with dance class “stage fright” read: My Child Has Dance Class “Stage Fright” – What Do I Do?

Daniela Filappone and James Boyd

Daniela Filappone and James Boyd in Bad Boys of Dance's 'Romeo and Juliet.' Photos by Tana Hall.

When did you know you wanted to dance professionally?

“I decided I wanted to dance professionally when I chose to quit dance to join a gymnastics-training program in the third grade. I loved gymnastics and got positive feedback about my work there, but after a few months, I really missed dance. Deep down, I knew I was supposed to be a dancer; I felt complete when I was dancing.” 

What have been some of your favorite roles to dance?

“My favorite role to date would have to be my current role as Juliet in Bad Boys of Dance’s Romeo and Juliet. It has been such a blessing to be chosen for this featured role. I’ve been pushed to explore parts of performance and acting that I would never have had the chance to before. Dancing in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular ensemble is another one of my favorite roles. I really love being a part of the ensemble of precision dancers, all working together to heighten the magical energy of the Christmas Spectacular. I have always enjoyed dancing to Christmas music and this show is so spectacular.”

How did you obtain the role as Juliet on the Bad Boys of Dance Romeo and Juliet tour?

“It took me a year and a half to book this job. I first auditioned for Bad Boys of Dance when they were casting for their other show Rock the Ballet II. I made it to the end of a long audition day to be told that they liked me for Romeo and Juliet, but wouldn’t be casting that show for another year. A year later, I was cast as Juliet after a second audition.”

Daniela Filippone and James Boyd

Daniela Filippone and James Boyd in 'Romeo and Juliet.' Photo by Katharina Weber.

How did you prepare for the role, inside and outside the studio?

“Juliet dances en pointe for most of the first act, so I took as much ballet as I could to strengthen my technique. I also did cardio training and trained in Pilates to strengthen my body for a demanding role. 

Outside the studio, I did research on the role. I read the Shakespearean text. I watched both the Zeffirelli and the Baz Luhrmann movie versions. I saw American Ballet Theatre perform Romeo and Juliet at the Metropolitan Opera House. I YouTube-ed it. I generally gave the character a lot of thought.”

How is this version different from the traditional ballet?

Adrienne Canterna’s choreography and music choices illustrate the Shakespearean story through a modernized and youthful perspective. We use both classical and pop music, as well as a blend of ballet, contemporary and hip-hop dance styles to tell the story. We aren’t limited by the confines of classical music or balletic movement. Additionally, this interpretation of Romeo and Juliet tells the story from the perspective of Romeo and Juliet themselves. The show explores the emotions they go through within the story.” 

Can you tell me more about the experience of dancing on an international tour? Had you done a lot of traveling before? How do you stay healthy and energized on the road?

“This was my first international tour and it was one of the highlights of my life. I have been to Europe only twice before, and I was much younger then. So the opportunity to dance, travel and experience new cultures has been very special. Touring enabled me to perform on various stages in cities I never imagined visiting and, to top it off, I got paid to do it. 

We stayed in each city for one week, which was the perfect amount of time to sightsee, get a feel for the city and then to move on before you got bored or homesick. We had to show up at the theater around 5 p.m., so we had plenty of time to experience each city during the day.

Living in a hotel was challenging because I couldn’t cook and had to eat out for most meals. I found it hard to find food that I was used to eating and that would, more importantly, fuel me for a show. I did the best I could with food, and made sure I got plenty of sleep and took care of my body. I took MSM supplements for joint health and had plenty of vitamin C. Although living out of a suitcase was challenging at times, the excitement of sharing this show with a new audience, at a new venue, in a new city, across the ocean from home, made the tour an experience I will never forget.”

Daniela Filippone and James Boyd

Daniela Filippone and James Boyd share a kiss as Romeo and Juliet. Photo by Katharina Weber.

What Capezio Pointe Shoes do you wear? What do you like about them?

“I wore the Tiffany Pro style pointe shoes for most of the European tour. They were great shoes to tour with because the box did not break down quickly, so each pair lasted me for many shows. The skived sole is awesome because it needed little breaking in; it bends with my arch, but also supports my heel.”

What are some of your interests outside the dance studio?

“Outside dance, I am very active and have a passion for food. I spend my time teaching or doing Pilates — or any really hard fitness class I can find. I love running and biking on the West Side Highway path, taking yoga and I try to go skiing whenever I have the chance. I fuel my workouts by trying out one of the well-reviewed restaurants New York City has to offer.”

What is next on the agenda for you?

“Who knows what is next? I am constantly auditioning and training, so hopefully a new challenging job will come soon.”