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Celebrity Dance Competitions expand in 2014

By Chelsea Thomas of Dance Informa.

One of the country’s most popular dance events, Celebrity Dance Competitions has announced its plans to expand in 2014, adding another regional dance competition to its previous 13-city roster in the spring and hosting five new dance conventions this fall for the first time in various locations across the country.

Releasing the locations for the first time to Dance Informa, the fall dance conventions are set to be held in: Phoenix, Arizona; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; and Atlanta, Georgia.

In addition to hosting regional dance competitions across the U.S. every year, Celebrity Dance Competitions also offer Celebrity Nationals at Sea, one-of-a-kind national competition experiences that are hosted on board beautiful cruise ships. Celebrity has announced that the 2014 Nationals that leave from port in Los Angeles will be held on a brand new, state-of-the-art ship.

Celebrity Dance Competitions, which began in 2001, aim to make all participants feel like a celebrity, regardless of age, placement or ability. Throughout all events, the Celebrity staff and faculty work tirelessly to provide a positive environment. They offer personal service and special attention and give all dancers trophies and an equal chance to win scholarships and cash prizes.

Celebrity Dance Competitions“We strive to provide the best customer service and fun-filled, family atmosphere to our competitors and their supporters,” explained Drew Phillip, director of Celebrity Dance Competitions. “At Celebrity, our participants get the top celebrity treatment every weekend, with the best industry professionals teaching and judging to provide exceptional guidance. From beginning to end, from the registration process all the way down to the last event at the competition weekend, we try to provide the Celebrity experience. We aim to provide perfection so dancers are excited to come to their next event.”

For spring competitions, Celebrity brings in top-notch judges. Unlike many other competitions that bring in just three judges per event, Celebrity always has at least four. Judges include: L.A.-based dancer and wardrobe stylist Tony Elliott; New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts graduate and Broadway Dance Center faculty member Sarah Brinson; Shaping Sound Dance Company member Chelsea Thedinga; Edge Performing Arts Center teacher Chelsea Michener; musical theatre and Broadway performer Robin Levine; Premiere Dance Center instructor Melissa Farrar; So You Think You Can Dance finalist Daniel Baker; SoleVita Dance Company member, TV dancer and performer Kara Hess; and Capezio Athlete Adam Di Loreto.

Celebrity Dance CompetitionsPhilip said, “At Celebrity, dancers receive working dance professionals’ opinions and insights to help them do better now and in the future.”

At each regional competition, dancers can win prizes from sponsors like Capezio through Celebrity DanceDowns, master classes that double as auditions. Hosted at each competition, participants are taught a routine and then perform it for Celebrity judges, in the process gaining valuable auditioning experience and individual exposure. Judges then choose the brightest stars, narrowing the dancers down to three junior and three senior winners.

Another opportunity Celebrity offers dancers is through their newer project Celebrity CREATE, a choreography competition co-produced by Capezio. Dancers, choreographers and studio owners can pre-submit dances meeting the necessary criteria to be chosen and then present them at a fall convention for the chance to win cash prizes.

“The pieces that are selected will dance on the Saturday night at the specific convention in a showcase that also features our faculty,” explained Philip. “For the evening this past fall in Phoenix at our first convention, we had our faculty present the opening and closing numbers, as well as solos throughout, and the chosen routines were performed.”

Celebrity Dance CompetitionsThe top dance that is selected wins the choreographer $2,500 in cash, plus a gift allowance for shopping at Capezio. “This gives choreographers special time in the spotlight instead of just the dancers, who typically are in the limelight. So that is really neat,” Philip said.

A Celebrity CREATE event will be held at each of the five conventions this coming fall, one for each Saturday night. Choreographers can apply online to be selected.

With all these events, including the new fall dance conventions, Philip said Celebrity staff can now see dancers numerous times each year. “We get to see them at regionals in the spring, nationals in the summer and conventions in the fall. We are so excited that we’ve been able to plan and provide basically an entire year worth of events,” he said.

He said the biggest thing that’s differentiates Celebrity from all another dance competitions is that while its jam-packed with dancing and unique performance opportunities, events won’t “leave you exhausted afterward.” Philip said, “Celebrity is designed to be a fun weekend for everybody. So we really try to give attention and focus to all aspects, whether its being on time so parents can really plan out their weekend, or the DanceDown, or giving great customer service to studio owners. We really try to focus on all aspects of the competition weekend – the dancers, the parents and the studio owners.”

Celebrity Dance CompetitionsWhen reflecting on Celebrity’s first 12 years and looking toward 2014, Philip summarized, “We want to be the competition that everyone wants us to be. So if there is something a dancer, parent or studio owner notices that could be improved, we are always open to their suggestions because we want them to have fun and enjoy!”

For more information on Celebrity Dance Competitions and upcoming regional or national events, visit www.dancecelebrity.com

Photos courtesy of Celebrity Dance Competitions.

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Alex Little begins new L.A.-based dance company

By Chelsea Thomas of Dance Informa.

Choreographer, master teacher, performer and now director, Alex Little has spent her career as an eternal escape artist, or as she describes it, someone who often feels “the urge to escape or hide from certain things in life.” Starting her own independent dance collective in September, Little fittingly named the outfit Escape Artists, for a group of artists who often “find their escape through their art.”

The collective had its official debut in early November when it premiered Little’s full-length work Anonymous. Little said she has been thinking of starting a company for a while and it just seemed like the right time.

“I think there are a lot of people who have dreams and ideas they want to come to fruition, and I am just one of them,” Little explained. “But I wanted to take the risk and give this dream of starting a dance collective a try. Like any dream, it will take will power and self-belief, but I hope it will thrive and become something great.”

Escape Artists Founder

Alex Little. Photo by Your Shadow, courtesy of Alex Little.

Little, a 32-year-old native of Seattle, now calls Los Angeles her home. She brings her professional career filled with performing, teaching, directing and choreographing to her new performance collective. In the past she has choreographed for clients like Nike, Audi, Genentech, Thunderhead.com and Tarbell Realtors, to name a few. Last season, she coached Karina Smirnoff and Apolo Anton Ohno for their jazz routine for Dancing With The Stars, and this past summer she contributed her choreography to the opening number of America’s Got Talent on NBC. Currently teaching at the Edge Performing Arts Center in Hollywood, where she “grew up dancing,” she also teaches at Velocity Dance Convention as well as various colleges and workshops worldwide.

She was a 2012 Capezio A.C.E. Awards Finalist and has recently worked alongside Stacey Tookey and Kathryn McCormick choreographing a music video in efforts to stop human trafficking. For 11 years, Little has been on the Master Faculty of Dance Excellence, and last year she co-founded The Feedback Experience, a dance experience with all live music. 

On her new performance collective, Little said, “I want to create meaningful shows, whether it is biographical subject matter or whimsical and fantastical. I want to create about subjects that keep me thinking and feeling in hopes that the show might provoke more thought, dialogue and emotion in the world.”

She said Escape Artists, made up of professional dancers coming from all backgrounds, seeks to be “another avenue to explore the folds of the world around us,” whether positive, negative or controversial. In this, the collective utilizes numerous movement styles, including contemporary (contemporary ballet, modern and jazz) and musical theatre. Down the road, Little hopes to include more performance art and cinematic, silent movie qualities. Little is intensely focused on storytelling, and she can often be heard encouraging artists to “tell your story” and “move from that space, feeling or intention.”

Escape Artists' debut performance

Alex Little with Gene Gabriel at Escape Artists’ debut performance season in November in L.A. Photo by Corey Cleary-Stoner.

Her dancers provide a diverse pool of inspiration for her storytelling too. They come from various backgrounds, including Cirque du Soleil, Momix, TV and film acting, Los Angeles improv theater, national and international pop artist tours (back-up dancers/singers) and competitive dance crews. The collective is a melting pot where artistry meets, melds and creates something new. 

“The format of our recent show Anonymous was taken from the idea of a real anonymous meeting, like Alcoholics Anonymous or any 12-step program meeting,” Little explained. “I found the idea of anonymous meetings so interesting in that people tell their stories – the deepest, most vulnerable parts of themselves – to almost complete strangers. It’s such a great example of how the individual can benefit from anonymity in community. It’s about how the human heart can sympathize and understand one another.”

After company auditions in mid-September, the collective began work on Anonymous. Little said, “To start, I sat down with seven dancers that would be the soloists and I asked them what they would share if they knew they were with a group of people who would keep their story confidential. So we started talking and some things were deeper and darker, and others were light and positive. We took it all and then we created solos, slowly building upon and around those… It came together to be something beautiful.”

Escape Artists present Anonymous

Chris Jarosz, Chris Fedun and Derek Tabada in Escape Artists’ debut performance season, titled ‘Anonymous’, in November 2013 in L.A. Photo by Corey Cleary-Stoner.

A full-length work about “honesty and vulnerability,” Anonymous was also a personal show for Little, as she knows the importance of anonymity when recovering from life’s issues. She said, “I think so many of us live life alone and think we are alone. But in those anonymous meetings, it shows that you’re not.”

Little said Escape Artists is already planning for its spring 2014 performance dates. They also have the possibility of working on a film. Through it all, Little says that her place as a finalist in the 2012 Capezio A.C.E. Awards has been a real confidence booster for her choreography.

“I would definitely say that that experience was more about the process and the people I worked with. I started working with a new level of dancers. That was a really special experience and it definitely gave me a boost of confidence. It was a really, really great gift for me,” Little said.

Her collective, while varied in choreographic themes, will also press to offer more immersive-theater experiences in the future. It started this time with Anonymous sprinkling performers throughout the audience until it was their time to get up and perform.

Throughout 2014, Escape Artists will also continue to offer free open dance classes for the company artists and any newcomers. As the collective grows, they look forward to giving back to the community where they create, maybe by running a dance camp for young artists or by offering a workshop that benefits charity or a rehab facility.

Escape Artists in Los Angeles

Bruce Weber in Escape Artists’ debut performance season. Photo by Corey Cleary-Stoner.

“This experience is definitely all-new and challenging at times, but I realized that its not about how big it gets or how successful I am, but rather its about saying what I want to say and trying what I want to try,” Little concluded.

For more information on Escape Artists, visit escapeartistsla.com. To read more on the Feedback Experience, see www.thefeedbackexperience.com. For bookings, contact Go 2 Talent Agency at lisa@go2talentagency.com and at twitter/instagram: @alex_little. 

Photo (top): Alex Little. Photo courtesy of Alex Little.

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Talented Tovaris

Miami raised and now LA based, Tovaris Wilson is a star of stage, film, television and video. Tovaris has performed several times on the Annual Academy Awards programs and can be seen in commercials for Pepsi, Sun Microsystems, and Rubbermaid products. Tovaris has appeared in music videos for Britney Spears, Cher, Prince, Macy Gray, Blink 182, and Will Smith, as well as the feature films Austin Powers II and III.

In early 2000, with a successful commercial dance career established, Tovaris chose to focus on developing his own style and made the transition to choreography full-time. Tovaris choreographed for Janet Jackson’s All For You tour, and soon after was commissioned to choreograph for Britney Spears, Macy Gray, Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce, MTV and the 2006 Pussycat Doll Tour. Tovaris is also an in demand teacher, teaching dance students in Japan, New York, Miami and Los Angeles, with a strong following of students at LA’s Edge Performing Arts Center.

When did you start dancing and why?

I took my first dance class at the age of 3 and have danced from that day until now. I was hooked from that moment. My parents recognized a talent in me and they have always nurtured it. When my mom was a young girl she was a performer. She sang and danced in shows. She had the opportunity to be in a commercial and because my Grandmother didn’t understand the world of the arts, it was something that was not supported.  My mother says she made a vow that if her kids ever showed interest in the arts, she would do everything in her power to encourage and support it.

What was the first professional job you ever booked and what was your experience of it?

I had some amazing opportunities as a young working dancer. At the age of 10 I compete and won Jr. Star Search. I also acted on an episode of Miami Vice. The first real dance experience I had was dancing on The Academy Awards.  It was so memorable because, firstly, I got the opportunity to work with my dance idol Debbie Allen.  Secondly, the feeling of performing on stage in front of Hollywood’s greatest actors gave me the chills! I was on an amazing adrenaline rush and I will never forget it!

What is you fondest memory as a dancer?

I have been blessed with some amazing opportunities, but I would have to say my fondest memories are from the two times I was able to tour the country with an artist. The first time was with Cher, and the second was with Britney Spears.  What I love about touring the world is learning about all the different cultures and just being able to see the world.  Also there is a special bond that you form among the cast and crew. It feels like a real family. In addition, every night you get to support an amazing artist as they entertain the several thousand fans who show up.  The energy you experience performing in an arena is second to none.

How and why did you transition into choreography?

I transitioned into choreography through teaching.  It is a very natural transition because I found that teaching allowed me a platform to hone my style.  Having to make up choreography every week for class forced me to be creative and focused.  I was also able to practice teaching my work to others. I feel that many people underestimate the ability it takes to translate your vision onto the body of someone else. I love creating movement and I love the challenge of pleasing the client.

What is your favorite experience as a choreographer so far?

Hands down my favorite experience as a choreographer was getting the opportunity to choreograph for Janet Jackson.  I can remember sitting in front of the television watching her music videos.  I would learn all the steps and perform them for my family.  The one dream I had was to one day dance with Janet. Not only did I get that opportunity, but I was selected to choreograph the opening number in her All For You world tour.  It was a real pinch myself moment, and definitely the highlight of my career.

What is up next for you as an artist?

I am still focused on furthering my career as a choreographer. There are still some things I would like to accomplish. I would love to choreograph a film.  Outside of continuing to choreograph and teach, I am interested in producing projects for dancers.  I have formed a production company with some friends called Less Is More Entertainment. We want to focus on projects that elevate dance and the choreographer. So many times choreographers are in the shadows; the puppeteers behind the magic. We want to shine the light on them and show the world the creativity it takes to be a masterful choreographer.  

I also just started a clothing line for dancers called L.I.T.E. It is an acronym for Life In The Eights. 8 is the number we use in dance to signify the start of a new phrase of movement.  

I am so excited for the future of dance and I always want to be a part of it!

See Tovaris’ magic at The Nvitational in LA, July 29-August 14. For more information click here

Tovaris Wilson is represented by The Movement / A Dance Management Company and MSA.
www.MovementMGMT.com www.MSAAgency.com

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Spotlight on Adam Parson

Known to both our readers in the US and Australia, Adam Parson is a well travelled dance instructor, choreographer and performer. Born in Nairobi, Kenya and now residing in LA, Adam is the founder and artistic director of Commonality Dance Company, which has toured the United States, Mexico, South Korea, and Europe. Adam’s commercial credits include Pepsi, Prince, Monica, Shell Oil and 3rd Rock from the Sun and he has even toured the world as a Power Ranger!

Here Adam shares some of that power with us…

Why did you start dancing?
I started dancing at 26 years old! At the time, I was a systems analyst and book keeper for a computer firm in Washington D.C. My sister asked me to take her friend to dance class as his mom couldn’t. I took them to the studio, heard the music, stepped inside and saw all these people jumping, turning and dropping to the floor in this uniformed movement. I was instantly hooked! I went straight up to the teacher and told her I wanted to do what everyone else was doing. She said, “If you’re serious, you’ll have to start by training and dancing with the juniors.” I did it, much to the dismay of the little dancers, but it all worked out. Actually, one of those juniors grew up and is currently on tour with Usher. We still laugh about those early days!

What teachers inspired you to dance? 
My teacher Terry Peyton and my ballet teacher Elan are why I’m where I am today. Terry shaped my hunger for strength and my fire for dance. She made my focus razor sharp and it’s still there. She turned the light on and then smashed the switch, leaving me always on! Elan gave me the drive and discipline to want to have my body be a precise machine. My first ballet class with her, I IMMEDIATELY felt the difference in my body and was obsessed with the fact that this drive, discipline, and sensation could create a useable foundation that still lasts to this day.

How important is training?
Unfortunately, it seems that young movers today don’t understand that once you stop training, you stop dancing. Movers are people who can move, copy the steps and throw a lot of energy into it. It’s easy to copy someone but it’s the training, time invested and knowledge of your art form that make you a dancer. Those of us who are just dancing for work have lost the art of dance itself. Some of the most successful dancers I know still take class in all forms (ballet, jazz, jazz funk, hip hop, tap, etc) because they know that if they stay sharp, they will always stay relevant. They stay on top of their own body’s game, which is why they keep working.

What’s so great about dance today?
The great thing about dance today is that it’s really mainstream with the help of all the dance shows on TV. The non dance community is starting to gain an awareness of the work that we do and are even starting to participate by taking classes themselves. I can only see this as a win-win for all of us. It’s not only dancers that are working more, but choreographers are in demand for work, which keeps my manager Jim Keith of Movement Management very busy!

This year Adam will be teaching across the US, in Europe, New Zealand and Mexico City, as well in Sydney Australia for Global Dance Convention, April 15-17. www.globaldance.com.au

Adam Parson is represented by The Movement/A Dance Management Company www.MovementMGMT.com
Take Adam’s class at Edge Performing Arts Center www.edgepac.com

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EDGE has the edge

By Deborah Searle.

If you’re planning to take class in LA, then you’re bound to go to EDGE Performing Arts Center.  And if you don’t have EDGE on your list of must dos, you should.  EDGE is world renowned as a professional training facility for commercial dance.  Established in 1992, EDGE offers beginning through professional open classes 7 days a week, 350 days a year.  Class styles include Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Hip Hop, Jazz Funk, Contemporary Jazz, Modern Fusion, Theatre Dance, Cabaret, Breakin’, Movement for Actors, Turns, Salsa, Belly Dancing, and Yoga.

EDGE is home to a who’s who roster of industry choreographers, teachers and performers.  They have worked with entertainers including Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Rihanna and Justin Timberlake among others.  Their choreography has been featured in countless music videos, commercials, television shows, films, concerts and stage productions.  They have also appeared with the American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Cleveland Ballet and the Tokyo Ballet.

Bill Prudich

Executive Director Bill Prudich is a pillar of the industry and the LA dance scene. “I’ve been here since 81, we opened in 92 and honestly there are so many great people whose careers we’ve been involved in and introduced to the LA scene through EDGE – like Tabitha and Napoleon. We showed them off first”, he explains. “There’s this sense of community in LA that’s bloomed from EDGE. I’m really proud of it. I don’t talk a lot about it but at the end of the day the dancers and choreographers are out there doing the talking. Carol, Randy and I are proud of this place”, he says, referring to his co-Directors Carol Connors and Randall Allaire.

So what makes EDGE so successful? “Our aim is education – preparing dancers to transition from high school or college to their professional careers. EDGE provides an opportunity for students to come and work directly with our teachers, such as Mandy Moore, Sonya Tayeh, Tabitha and Napoleon, Tovaris Wilson and Bobby Newberry, where they can develop a relationship with these teachers. And it gives those teachers a chance to choreograph from their heart”, Bill explains. “It’s a great place for both sides of the equation – not just for a student to come, but for teachers to teach.”

When taking class at EDGE you not only work with the industry’s best, such as Adam Parson and Eddie Garcia, but you chassé away a more rounded artist. “Edge has a reputation for well rounded working dancers”, says Bill. “We provide those classes that are set up to develop your technique, to give you the vocabulary you need, as well as the classes that are really about style and commercial contemporary movement. We have a good combination of classes”.

And EDGE isn’t only for the drop in student, but also for the highly dedicated dancer, striving to take their training to the next level.  EDGE provides a world renowned scholarship program with a long history of successful graduates. “We give away 20 full time scholarships a year to dancers from completely divergent backgrounds from all over the country”, explains Bill. “They are fully directed programs. We look at each student and determine their strengths and then really spend the time on their weaknesses.” Bill justifies why they focus on their students’ weaknesses; “there’s always going to be somebody who’s a little prettier, or who can kick a little higher, or turn a little more, so you cannot rest on your laurels or be really good at only one thing.”

Kevin Maher teaching at EDGE

With 17 classes a week, plus three two and a half hour workshop classes exclusively for the lucky scholarship students, EDGE provides an intense and holistic training program. “In the workshop classes we’ll do anything from injury prevention, to improvisation, acting, voice, dance history, or partnering.  The program covers the whole shebang though all different styles and it goes for 1 year,” adds Bill.

But what happens to the students after this intense year at EDGE? “The studio performs a showcase at the end of July. Many industry professionals and all the agencies attend. After the show the agencies come in and work with the dancers and then sign them.  All 20 kids got signed this year. The percentage is always really high”, he boasts.

And boast he should, as EDGE under Bill, Carol and Randall’s careful eye has truly made a mark on the LA dance scene and the world’s dance stage, thanks to the team’s hard work and dedication.  “I am a true believer that the person who works hard and stays focused will find their place”, Bill shares. “It may not be what they imagined, but you just have to be open to see where you belong, as much as where you want to be. Mandy Moore is a perfect example. Mandy auditioned for scholarship and didn’t get in, but she stayed here and worked with us. She started out working out on the conventions selling t-shirts and then unveiled this tremendous gift for teaching and choreographing. Then the next thing I knew she was teaching and choreographing!”

EDGE Performing Arts Center provides a platform where you can find your place in the industry. As a dancer, the variety of classes, caliber of faculty, and friendly non-competitive atmosphere, puts EDGE at the top of my studio list.


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Mandy Moore Shares Her Magic!

Dance Informa speaks with Choreographer Mandy Moore.

 By Deborah Searle.

Mandy Moore is an inspirational Emmy nominated jazz and contemporary dance artist. Recently enjoying growing recognition for her powerful work on So You Think You Can Dance USA, Mandy is a renowned dance teacher and choreographer across the US. Choreographing for Celine Dion’s Taking Chances World Tour, American Idol, SYTYCD and even That 70’s Show, Mandy Moore has a long list of stage, film and television credits. A highly respected teacher, her classes at Edge Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles are always full and she travels the US 22 weekends a year to teach at the popular JUMP Dance Convention where she has a loyal following of young dance fans.

Busy with Season 6 of So You Think You Can Dance and the current JUMP tour, Mandy shared a few moments with Dance Informa’s Deborah Searle to tell us about her life as a successful choreographer.

As Mandy is a dance teacher, performer, choreographer and even actor I asked her about her favourite artistic avenue. “I think luckily I have been able to find joy in all the things that I do. I think it’s a very lucky thing because I don’t know if everybody gets to do that in life. I really truly love everything I do”. However, with such love for all the performing arts forms, she did highlight teaching as her favourite.  “I don’t want to sound crazy, but I love teaching children. It’s the most rewarding thing to see a child or any dancer that doesn’t understand start to understand something. Teaching has been so much a part of my life for so long that I’m no longer a beginner at it. To see somebody experience it and then want to learn more about it, I think is just the ultimate. Just to see the light in their eyes…it is so cool”.

Excited about SYTYCD 6, now airing in the US, Mandy spoke about this season. “It’s been so crazy that this season happened so quickly after the summer, but the dancers are really good kids and they have been working hard. I’m really excited about all the changes that have happened, with Adam Shankman now on the panel, and also the new stage. Things just continue to grow, which is great”.

As we have enjoyed many seasons of SYTYCD so far, the focus tends to be on the dancers and how the television show has changed their lives. But what about the choreographers?

Mandy MooreI spoke with Mandy about working on the show and how it has changed her life. “The funny thing is that as choreographers, we tend to just be in the background. No one really thinks about who created the dance. Most people just think about who’s performing and how well they did. SYTYCD really has put choreographers into the light”, she explained. As a teacher and choreographer for many years, with a long line of credits other than the hit television show, Mandy shared that “the weird thing is that I have been doing this for a long time before the show came about, in different ways; with children, working in the industry and creating movement for television and movies. But it has definitely changed my life. I’ll be walking in the middle of Kansas City and someone will stop me and say ‘hey aren’t you that choreographer from SYTYCD?’ So in that way it’s been very strange. I used to walk around the airport kind of incognito and that doesn’t happen anymore”. With such recognition I enquired as to whether the show has brought about new opportunities for her. “The show has of course opened up doors because now I have that footage of my work or I can tell a producer or show a producer what I’ve done. Of course that’s going to help work wise”, she shared.

So how does she enjoy working on SYTYCD? “I definitely think it’s always a challenge. With the dancers, it’s such a gamble. Some weeks you go in there and the style that you have works with the kids you have and then some weeks you go in and you’re like ‘oh this is going to be a little bit of a challenge!’ I might have a Krumper that I have to teach how to do Contemporary, and they haven’t worked on that before. So that is a huge challenge, but it can also be so amazing when you actually see somebody who doesn’t do that style give their all and do well. That’s really neat”.

With the pressure on to produce an amazing number in only a few hours Mandy exclaimed, “There are many sleepless nights, I’m not going to lie. It’s a challenge to be always coming up with new concepts and thoughts and you have very little time with them really. If we had 25 hours with them then of course you could do anything but you really only have 5-6 hours with them and you’re trialling new styles, which is a little stressful. There are 6 million people watching!”

And as for good old Nigel Lythgoe, “I love working for Nigel” she says. “I think he’s a brilliant man when it comes to television and what people want to see”.

With so many credits to her name I asked Mandy about her career highlight so far. “I’d have to say, the first time I got called to work on SYTYCD. That was a really huge moment for me”, she shared.  Mandy also spoke about her work with Celine Dion. “Working with the Celine dancers was a highlight as well. Those dancers were not only my peers and people that I have a huge respect for, but to be able to have Jamie King the director basically give me free reign was incredible. He gave me this prop and said ‘I want you to fly with it. I want you to do whatever you want with it in the round’. I was having to deal with 360 degrees of people watching, so it had to look good on all sides. It was really an incredible experience to have eight hour days to just create and see what you can come up with, with very little parameter”.

Talking about her choreography Mandy shared about her inspirations.”I think for me I find that I’m most successful if I get an idea first. That idea could be anything from a vision I’ll have in my head or a colour. Sometimes I’ll just listen to a song and visualise an actual picture or a costume I think somebody should wear. Then from that point I try and create movement that is in tune with whatever that first vision of mine was”, she shares. “I’m very exploratory. I really like a lot of lifts and a lot of movement that makes you go ‘wow, how the heck did they just do that?’” To create such exciting and new movement Mandy explained that there is a lot of trial and error. “I find that in rehearsal we have a really good time because we all just beat it so bad so many times and fall and try all these new things and then through that process you come up with these wild things that you never would have thought of. Really a lot of things come out of just messing up, and then you kind of whittle it all down to what you want the movement to be. I guess I kind of create through a lot of mistakes, a lot of exploring”.

Mandy MooreSo just how does she pull the best out of her dancers? “First of all I have learnt that I’m someone who doesn’t like to work in negativity. For me it doesn’t work. I don’t feel like I flourish in a negative environment and I don’t feel like others would benefit in my negative environment. So I try and work in a very positive, yet firm, way with people. I’m clear usually about what I want. It may take a little bit to get there but then once I know what I want I will stop at nothing to get that. I really try to find out who I’m working with, who is in front of me and how they are best going to respond. Everybody learns differently”.

With such choreographic success I asked Mandy about what she’ll do next. “I really would love to do a Broadway show at some point in my life”, she said. “I think I’m a closet Broadway person, I just love it. I grew up around theatre, my parents are in theatre and I used to do a lot of theatre when I was growing up and I would love to make my way to the Broadway stage at some point, either performing or choreographing. I would love to do that!”

So even Mandy Moore wants to make it on Broadway! But what is her advice to aspiring dancers who also want to taste such success? “I guess the thing that’s worked for me is to never take no for an answer. There are a lot of things in the industry, in the world really, that tell you ‘no’ in a certain way. I think the most important thing you can remember is to keep going and that one person’s ‘no’ could be another person’s ‘yes’. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. So you have to whole-heartedly believe in what you do”, she said.  When teaching, Mandy gets a chance to give students across the country advice. “You know, I talk to the kids a lot about the fact that you have to really love it or it’s not worth it. Find something that you love because if it’s not dance then there is something else out there that you will love, so don’t waste your time. If you don’t love it it’s not going to happen. I do truly believe that good things happen to people that are very passionate about what they are trying to accomplish. I try telling myself that everyday too”….

To see Mandy’s work check out the current season of SYTYCD US. Australian readers – you will just have to wait, but it will be well worth it. Mandy’s work is quite heavily featured in the current season, with some breathtaking numbers.

Or catch Mandy at JUMP Dance Convention.
Jump – The Alternative Convention
Date: Currently touring
Location: 22 cities across America
Contact: www.breakthefloor.com

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