[Interview] Dancer Dara Holmes: My Most Unforgettable Performance Was Ekman’s Midsummer Night’s Dream

Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann

After 9 successful years with The Joffrey Ballet, Dara Holmes continues to make her hometowns of New Jersey and North Carolina proud. The 2015 3Arts Award nominee has danced in a host of well-known Joffrey productions including: Incantations, Son of Chamber Symphony, Swan Lake, La Bayadère, Don Quixote, Forgotten Land, Tulle, and The Nutcracker. BTSCelebs decided to catch up with the lovely local star to see how she is spending this downtime.

Check out our interview below!

BTSCelebs: Who is Dara Holmes?

Dara Holmes: A 28-year-old artist with the Joffrey Ballet.

What piqued your interest in performing arts?

I knew I wanted to be a dancer at age three when I learned of ballet from a B encyclopedia; I haven’t stopped since then.

Tell us all about your most unforgettable performance at the Joffrey so far.

There are so many, but to keep it positive, my most unforgettable performance and one that I’ll forever be grateful to God for was being able to still perform in Ekman’s Midsummer Night’s Dream after getting injured two months before the show hit the stage. An attitude of gratitude always makes performing worthwhile, though it’s not always easy.

Tell us all about your daily routine over the past few months.

It’s been class and Pilates in my “studio” apartment and Bible study on alternating days of the week. As it gets warmer, I’ve been stepping out more, sometimes walking up to five miles in a day and sometimes to just find an area nearby to read, non-fiction mainly. I’ve also been watching so much YouTube; that’s TV for me. Christian and biblical topics, politics, and…hair!

What motivates you to stay active during quarantine?

Our online ballet classes have been a big help; I have to be honest though, with the future being uncertain right now, it’s hard to stay motivated. But class keeps my mind on my personal technical goals.

What is your go-to playlist?

It’s always either my Christian playlist on my iTunes or my beats playlist on my SoundCloud.

What advice do you have for Joffrey fans who are bored during this theatre downtime?

Stay tuned!

Dara Holmes and Edson Barbosa_Photo by Cheryl Mann

A Special Thanks to Dara Holmes and The Silverman Group for the exclusive interview and images.

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[Interview] Dancer Valentino Moneglia Zamora: ‘Born To Be Wild’ Made Me Want To Pursue Ballet As A Profession

Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann

In 2016, Valentino Moneglia Zamora joined the Joffrey Ballet Studio Company and scored coveted parts in Swan Lake and Don Quixote. He even landed lead roles in George Balanchine’s Viva Vivaldi and Suite Saint-Saens, Bournonville’s Napoli, and Alexander Ekman’s Episode 31. Today, the handsome company artist showcases his dancing skills to a Midwestern audience on a yearly basis.

BTSCelebs recently interviewed the Robles Ballet School alum to learn more about him, and how he is spending this period of quarantine.

BTSCelebs: Who is Valentino Moneglia Zamora?

Valentino: I am from a small town from the south of Spain. I enjoy plants and cooking, and I am a ballet dancer with The Joffrey Ballet.

What piqued your interest in performing arts?

Since I was a little boy, I’ve always liked dancing around to whatever music was playing. So my mom eventually put me in the professional conservatory of dance in Murcia, a city close by. For the first few years in school, I studied ballet, flamenco, and Spanish folk dances until I chose to focus only on ballet. Learning about dance during these years got me very interested in performing arts, But what made me want to pursue ballet as a profession was a dvd that my ballet teacher gave me called Born to be Wild. It featured the leading men of American Ballet Theater at the time. It made me realize what the performing arts could look like.

Based on all the shows you’ve performed in, which one of your past roles do you identify with the most?

The role of Buffalo Bill in the Joffrey Ballet’s Nutcracker. I picture him as an impulsive, wild man and at times I think I can be a little bit like that.

Tell us all about your daily routine over the past few months.

Since my normal routine has been put on hold, I have tried to invest my time in different activities that I usually don’t have time to do. I have read new books, tried new recipes, learned to play the ukulele, dedicated more time to my plants. But most importantly, I have been able to FaceTime my family every day.

What motivates you to stay active during quarantine?

For me, staying active and doing exercises keeps my mind at ease and helps me deal better with what’s happening in the world today.

What is your go-to playlist?

I am obsessed with the The 1975. I listen to their last two albums almost every day. But before ballet, I like to listen to “Boleros de Los Panchos” playlist on Apple Music.

What advice do you have for Joffrey fans who are bored during this theatre downtime?

Keep an eye on the Joffrey Ballet’s social media. They have been sharing great content of Joffrey Ballet’s past performances and take a look at “On Cue” with our ballet master, Adam Blyde, to learn more about the company dancers.

A Special Thanks to Valentino Moneglia Zamora and The Silverman Group for the exclusive interview and images.

Victoria Jaiani and Valentino Zamora Photo Credit: Cheryl Mann

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The Joffrey Ballet Cancels Performances For The Rest Of The Year

Amanda Assucena_in rehearsal for Joy_Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Chicago’s top dance company made the tough decision to postpone their first season at the Lyric Opera House. According to a recent press release, they are cancelling Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon (October 14-25, 2020) and Christopher Wheeldon’s The Nutcracker (December 5-27, 2020), while February, April and May productions are still scheduled. Special programs will be announced at a later date. “Additionally, the Joffrey has established a Crisis Stabilization Fund to recoup financial losses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Ashley Wheater MBE, The Mary B. Galvin Artistic Director of The Joffrey Ballet had this to say about their decision, “Like all arts organizations, the Joffrey is dealing with unprecedented and unpredictable conditions. Based on advice from health experts and local officials, it is not feasible to present the first half of our season in a manner that guarantees the safety of our audience, artists, production crew, and staff members. It saddens all of us. Our focus right now is keeping the Company whole and in good mental, spiritual, and physical health. We will continue to adapt and be ready to return to the stage when the circumstances allow. We will persevere and find new, creative ways to connect with our audience in the meantime.”

Greg Cameron, President and Chief Executive Officer added, “The loss of The Nutcracker alone—more than half of the Joffrey’s annual earned revenue—compounds a financial crisis for the Company that began this past spring with the cancellation of several important performances and programs. We will now put our full attention and energy toward the Crisis Stabilization Fund to ensure the long-term health of the Joffrey. This is a critical juncture. Every moment, every decision, every dollar will count.”

Click Here on learn more about Joffrey’s Crisis Stabilization Fund via BTSCelebs’ Facebook Page.

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BTSCelebs to Review DiAnn Mills’ “Airborne” This Summer

DiAnn Mills is back with another riveting mystery!

In Mills’ upcoming novel titled “Airborne”, FBI Agent Heather Lawrence’s simple vacation flight quickly transforms into a terrifying mystery when passengers start falling ill.  It’s up to her and her FBI colleagues to find out the reason for the outbreak and end it.

Stay tuned to BTSCelebs in the coming weeks for a complete review.

“Airborne” releases September 2020.

* A Special Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for a complimentary copy of the book.*

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Mandisa Talks Love and Relationships With “Single Life” Panel


This week, the gifted CCM singer, Mandisa,  joined a group of bachelors and bachelorettes to give the world a glimpse into the minds of singles today. Bestselling author and speaker Anthony Oneal invited the energetic group to discuss modern dating and share their personal opinions for the five-part series.

Whether you’re single or married, there is so much to learn from the insightful discussions. Be prepared to experience a roller coaster of emotions as you watch “Single Life” on YouTube. Check out one of Mandisa‘s best episodes here.

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What is The Joffrey Ballet Up To Today?

Swan Lake (The Joffrey Ballet)

Chicago’s top dance company, The Joffrey Ballet, is staying busy during this period of quarantine. Artistic team members/dancers are opening up to their audience like never before. Theme Ballet Weeks and the Train Like A Pro workout series gives everyone a bird’s eye view of popular past productions, while teaching us their outstanding moves. Right now, you can enjoy these specials and so much more for free in the comfort of your own home.

Take a look at one video from each series:

Swan Lake

Julia Rust –

As an added bonus, you can watch fun, brief interviews with dancers!

Stefan Goncalvez –

Videos are uploaded on a regular basis! Click Here to visit Joffrey’s Official YouYube Channel.

*A Special Thanks to The Silverman Group for the info.*

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Fantasy Casting: “That Girl” Starring Samantha Boscarino and Dale Whibley

This year, a classic TV network introduced the famous 60s-70s series “That Girl” (starring Marlo Thomas and Ted Bessell) to a new generation. I saw some episodes during my childhood but watching the sitcom in it’s entirety was a whole new experience. Also, I wondered if the show was ever remade… who would take on the starring roles?

So, this is my dream cast for a “That Girl” series in the 20s!

Ann Marie – actress Samantha Boscarino

After starring in “God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness”, she has landed a number of roles in shorts and TV shows. The former child star is ready to take the lead and being “That Girl” would be the perfect opportunity.

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on a JLO tip 🤳🏽

A post shared by Samantha Boscarino (@pongypal) on

Donald Hollinger – actor Dale Whibley

Do you remember Caleb from “Make It Pop”? Dale scored numerous projects since then and is a familiar face on the Hallmark Channel and ABC’s “American Housewife”. He definitely fits the boy-next-door role while updating it and making it his own.

Lew Marie – actor Andrew Walker

Like the previous actors, Andrew is also a former child star. He was introduced to viewers through the 90s shows “Are You Afraid of The Dark” and “Student Bodies”, and now he’s become a Hallmark Channel leading man. Ann Marie’s father in the classic series is a distinguished gentlemen, this time around, I think it would be better to make him younger. Maybe he’ll understand Ann’s career ambitions a little more if he’s a little closer to her age.

Helen Marie -actress Lacey Chabert

The Christian Mingle actress is best known as Gretchen in the blockbuster film Mean Girls. In recent years, she has become a bonafide Hallmark Channel star. What better mother could That Girl have than a mean girl turned good? Again, Lacey could be a younger parent that’ll be her caring mom and best friend.

That is BTSCelebs’ choices for the main cast, and the possibilities are endless for their friends, co-workers and neighbors!

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[Poll] Choose Your Favorite Exclusive Article

For 9 years, BTSCelebs has been delivering you the best reviews, interviews and event coverage. I would love to know what you want to see in the future. The poll below is a chance for you to voice your opinion!

BTSCelebs is all ears.

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[Interview] Singer Charlie Rey: “God Will Always Be In Control”

If you were a fan of season 3 of “The Voice”, then you probably know all about Charlie Rey. He joined Team Blake and demonstrated his music skills into the Battle Rounds. Several years later, the seasoned singer is making a name for himself in Christian music. BTSCelebs recently caught up with him to talk about all things music.

BTSCelebs: Who is Charlie Rey?

Charlie Rey: Just a dude from Long Beach CA who loves singing and writing songs for Jesus! I like long walks on the beach.. just kidding. I’m a husband, father, worship leader, and student at USC! I like to think of myself as a pretty chill and laid back dude.

Tell us about your road to ‘The Voice’. Who inspired you to chase after your dream on the popular music program?

Actually, I was working with a firm in LA that wanted me to go on just to get a jumpstart and some exposure. Never thought I would actually get on the show, but I kept moving forward in auditions!

How has that incredible experience influenced your music?

I think I was so nervous during the blind audition that it took every last nerve out of my body (If you saw my armpits when I raised my hands after I got picked you’ll see the evidence). I really don’t get that nervous before shows anymore after that! It also helped me learn how to network because I lived in a hotel for months with a bunch of performers and music executives so I had to learn how to chat and network with people.

What do you want listeners to take away from your single “Undeniable Love”?

God’s love is undeniable, so relax and breath that in for a minute! Times are crazy, just as they always have been and will continue to be. But God will always be in control and will love you no matter what is happening. The evidence is clear when you just stop and look!

How have you used this current quarantine in a positive way?

I have realized the value of family in a totally new way. I imagine it would be hard to be by yourself during this time. Taking the free time to dive into the Word and get closer to God. Making sure finances are stable and staying out of debt is a good lesson to take away too!

What projects should we expect from you in the near future?

Expect a lot! I have a song that was released on May 5th called “Day After Forever”, along with a music video that my wife and I did in quarantine. Also 3 songs that are all in line to go out after that! I wish I could announce a tour but as we all know that’s not happening anytime soon.

Learn more about this singer by visiting his website , CharlieRey.com

A Special Thanks to Charlie Rey for the interview and images.

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[Interview] T.I. Lowe: “Find Your Authentic Writing Voice And Own It”

2020 is the year of T. I. Lowe! The engaging writer plans to whisk readers away to her romantic world in the Carolina Coast series. Last month, readers welcomed “Beach Haven” with open arms. As we wait for the story to continue in “Driftwood Dreams” and “Sea Glass Castle”, let’s learn a little more about the author and what truly ties the trilogy together.

BTSCelebs: Who is T. I. Lowe?

T. I. Lowe: Some days I’m not quite sure! Somewhere between a hot mess and a work in progress. But I’m mostly sure I’m Tonya Inez Lowe. Mother to two exceptional children, Nathan and Lydia. Wife to the kindest man I know, Bernie. And then, on the side, I have the privilege of being an author, which was a dream I’d kept hidden from way back in my early teens until I was almost forty years old.

Who encouraged you to become an author?

My mother. It was during her battle with cancer that I shared a story on my heart: Lulu’s Café. We spoke about it extensively during her chemo treatments as I began to write it with her encouragement. She made me promise to share it and I told her I would one day, but not during that season of our lives. A year later, she passed away, and there I was holding an enormous burden of grief that I had never fathomed could exist. But I was also holding that promise I had made her. Four months later, I self-published Lulu’s Café in order to keep my promise to her.

What inspired you to include a playlist at the end of each Carolina Coast Series book?

I love music and how it can evoke emotions, so I began putting the playlists together while writing. If a scene was heavy and I needed to get in the right mindset for that, I would look up melancholy songs. If I needed inspiration and something more upbeat, then that’s what I would listen to while writing scenes. I’ve included a playlist in each of my books—sixteen total so far—and love it when my readers enjoy them.

Which landmarks inspired your description of the unique Bless This Mess shop, the Driftwood Diner, and the Sand Queens’ homes?

Bless This Mess needed to be a fun place that, when you pass it, you just have to go in and check it out. No exact place inspired it, but I have made a Pinterest board since writing Beach Haven and have actually found some places that look spot-on. As for the Driftwood Diner, I have eaten in a few hole-in-the-walls near my local beach. You know, those places only the locals are privy to. When I go on vacation with my family, our rule is to never eat at a chain restaurant. I go online to research or even ask folks in that area for recommendations. And just let me say, we’ve never eaten a bad meal. The Sand Queens’ homes are a combination of various beach houses I’ve stayed at locally. Long-standing wooden homes on stilts. Comfy and cozy was the vibe I wanted the homes to convey.

What is one common element you created that ties the three books together?

Beach houses are typically given names, so I had a fun time coming up with names for the Sand Queens’ homes. The names of the houses were also used as the names of the books in the series, and they hold a clue about each story. Lincoln Cole needs a haven in Beach Haven. He finds this in more than one way after he meets Opal Gilbert. In Driftwood Dreams, Josie Slater struggles with chasing after her dreams. August Bradford gives her the push she needs to get to it. Sea Glass Castle was probably the most interesting title to come up with. In the book, I reference how sea glass is made—broken pieces transformed into beauty after a turbulent journey—and the two main characters, Sophia Prescott and Weston Sawyer, go through their own transformations after turbulent seasons of life.

How have you used this current quarantine in a positive way?

My son is home from his first year of college, and my daughter, who is in eighth grade, is also home for the rest of the school year. We’ve baked lots of goodies and put together several puzzles. We’ve also done a few DIY projects. Today’s project is painting reclaimed wood and then distressing it to cover one of my son’s bedroom walls. As for my writing, I’ve taken this time-out to do research for my next book series. I’ve even worked on overcoming my fear of live chats on social media! I’ve resembled that hot mess on my attempts so far, but folks have been kind.

What advice would you give to rookie writers?

I always share the same advice, but I think it’s important. Write what you are led to write, not what you think others want you to write. Find your authentic writing voice and own it!

Read BTSCelebs’ review of T.I. Lowe’s “Sea Glass Castle” by clicking here.

A Special Thanks to T.I. Lowe and Tyndale House Publishers for the interview and images. 

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