Choreographing a Musical
“Credit must also be given to Emily Sugianto, Spring Awakening’s choreographer, for creating lively dance routines that the whole cast could perfect. The ensemble performances of “The Mirror-Blue Night” and “Touch Me” were particularly well-done. During these numbers, Sugianto used cast members to create blocking in the form of dynamic shapes. These shapes also translated into seamless transitions after the numbers finished. Additionally, during the performance of “Totally Fucked,” it was impossible not to bop my head alongside the cast’s high energy and infectious smiles.”
Choreographing my first full-length in-person musical taught me many valuable lessons and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity.
The first lesson was that, although I had previously been a featured dancer in Mamma Mia! and Guys and Dolls, and had choreographed an online production of the Theory of Relativity, nothing truly prepared me for the monumental increase in work that happens when you switch from being a cast member to a crew member. Instead of just managing yourself, you are now responsible for making a whole group of people look good together! Dealing with the stressors of COVID also made me so grateful to all directors, choreographers, and artistic teams who are fighting to ensure the arts continue despite any obstacles. So, thank you to all the people backstage who usually do not get enough credit.
The second lesson came from working with non-dancers. This is not to say that the cast did not have any dance experience, but simply that they hadn’t taken weekly ballet classes since the age of 3 (which is the demographic that I am usually surrounded by). Working with university students was a refreshing break from the children that I usually instruct at Poise Dance Academy; however, this escapade taught me how consistent hard work for many years gives you so many unique skills, from picking up and remembering steps and detailed corrections to intuitively coordinating and expressing movements without explicit instruction. I love my Spring Awakening cast with all my heart but I am also so lucky to teach and work with dancers on a regular basis.
And finally, after 2 years of online dance classes and shows, the final lesson was that nothing compares to a real live audience and live non-distanced (maskless) performance. It was truly exhilarating to be back. I cannot wait for the next show. Get excited for Cinderella!
April 18, 2022
Article links: the Varsity Review