Ce 23 janvier Olivia Newton-John sera proclamée femme de l'année par la compagnie du Nevada Ballet Theatre de Las Vegas !
Pour l'occasion ONJ a accordé une interview au LasVegasSun et revient sur les chorégraphies du film GREASE !
C'est son amie Marie Osmond qui lui remettra ce prix très spécial. Les deux femmes sont des amies depuis des décennies et partagent une admiration mutuelle : "Nous avons toutes les deux passé notre vie dans ce business. Elle est une véritable source d'inspiration. J'ai connu les Osmonds lorsque je fus invitée dans leur émission de télévision, c'est depuis une longue amitié ".
Olivia Newton-John a étudié la danse moderne de manière désinvolte, tôt dans sa carrière à l'époque où elle était la partenaire d'un duo formé avec Pat Carroll.
"Pat m'a appris quelques pas de danse, mais je n'ai jamais étudié formellement !"
La sœur aînée d'Olivia, Rona, était la danseuse de ballet dans la famille. «Elle était très gracieuse. Mais moi ? Nooon ... Je suis très maladroite. Fondamentalement, j'ai toujours eu des difficultés pour mettre un pied devant l'autre".
Sa plus célèbre introduction à la danse chorégraphiée fut pour le film "Grease", avec Travolta, qui venait d'avoir tourné "Saturday Night Fever", et une troupe de danseurs professionnels.
Newton-John : "la chorégraphe du film, Pat Birch, a fait ces scènes de danse qui se déplacent. Elle était incroyable. Elle savait regarder comment vous vous déplaciez naturellement et vous apprenait à utiliser ces mouvements dans la chorégraphie. Il nous a fallu une semaine pour répéter le numéro "Hand Jive", et nous avons répété la scène où John m'a soulevée à plusieurs reprises."
Newton-John ajoute. "Il nous a fallu apprendre à danser tous les jours avec l'ensemble du casting. Nous avons tous appris à nous déplacer ensemble".
Olivia Newton-John remembers groovin’ in ‘Grease’ as she accepts NBT Woman of the Year honor !
Olivia Newton-John readily recalls the daily rehearsal time she put in for the dance scenes in “Grease,” principally the “You’re the One That I Want” number at the end of the film with co-star John Travolta and the “Born to Hand Jive” segment from the Rydell High school dance.
But the name of the band who played that dance in the school’s gym? That has escaped Newton-John over the years until the band’s coincidental title is mentioned during a phone chat.
“It’s funny that you’re working in Las Vegas now and the name of the band in ‘Grease’ was Johnny Casino and The Gamblers.”
“Wait. It was?” Newton-John says. “I never knew that.”
“Yeah, Sha Na Na was the band, but they were called Johnny Casino and The Gamblers in the movie,” I say. “So, all roads eventually lead to Las Vegas.”
“Totally,” she says, laughing. “It’s very appropriate.”
The subjects of dance and Las Vegas are broached as Newton-John is being honored as Nevada Ballet Theatre’s Woman of the Year on Saturday night at Wynn Las Vegas.
One of the Las Vegas’ fanciest annual events honoring one of the city’s great arts institutions, the NBT gala is the largest fundraiser of the year for the long-standing dance company. NBT was co-founded in 1972 by “Folies Bergere” principal cancer Vassili Sulich and famed dancer Nancy Houssels, who recruited dancers along the Strip to perform in the then-burgeoning company.
The Woman of the Year honor was established in 1985, and NBT’s list of highlighted honorees includes Debbie Reynolds, Chita Rivera, Celine Dion, Bette Midler, Marie Osmond, Priscilla Presley, Eva Longoria, Mitzi Gaynor, Florence Henderson and last year’s honoree, Debbie Allen.
A headliner at Flamingo Las Vegas, Newton-John has performed in Las Vegas for decades, a career on and off the Strip that began at almost the same time as NBT was established. Her debut in the city was in the summer of 1974 at Las Vegas Hilton, when she appeared as the opening act for Charlie Rich.
It’s apt that Osmond is presenting Newton-John. The two have been friends for decades and share a mutual admiration and respect — and also, today, a showroom on the Strip.
“I asked Marie to do this, and she said yes. It was that simple,” Newton-John says of the process that led to Osmond’s appearance at the gala. “She is such a talented, hard-working girl. We’ve both spent our lives in this business. She is a real inspiration. I got to know them when I was on their TV show, so it has been a long friendship.”
Similar to Osmond, Newton-John holds a genuine appreciation for the rich tradition of NBT’s Woman of the Year honor.
“I understand the history of Las Vegas and the history of this organization,” Newton-John says. “I am very honored. These are great people, great dancers, and I really respect the discipline, the time and talent it takes to be a classically trained dancer. It’s incredible what they do.”
Osmond will be on hand to introduce Newton-John at Saturday’s gala. The entertainment lineup features Human Nature, David Perrico’s band and NBT Future Dance Troupe. Wendy Plasterer is to be honored with the Nancy Award for philanthropic support, and the esteemed Chet Buchanan of KLUC is again the night’s MC.
As is the case for many honorees, dance is not the principal means of entertainment or fame. Newton-John studied modern dance only casually early in her career during the days when she was a duet partner with Pat Carroll in the performance team Pat and Olivia.
“Pat would just teach me a routine, but I never studied formally,” Newton-John says. “Nowadays, you have to be a dancer, but unfortunately I was not one who studied classically.”
Newton-John’s older sister, Rona, was the ballet dancer in the family. “She was very graceful. But me? Nooo … I was very klutzy. Basically, I had a difficult time putting one foot in front of the other.”
Her most famous introduction to choreographed performance was in “Grease,” paired with Travolta, who had just starred in the disco epic “Saturday Night Fever,” and a cast of professional dancers.
Newton-John says the film’s choreographer, Pat Birch, made those dance scenes move.
“She was amazing. She would watch how you moved naturally and choreographed you to use that movement,” Newton-John says. “It took us a week to rehearse the ‘Hand Jive’ number, and we rehearsed the scene where John lifted me up over and over.”
Newton-John pauses, then adds. “It really was going to dance class every day with the whole cast. We all learned to move together.”
And you can almost hear the music in the background led by a band that time forgot … almost.
By John Katsilometes.