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Step by Step: Creating a Musical

For the past four weeks, I have been dancing into work every day! This summer, I am the choreographer for ETC’s two musical theatre camps: Musical Debut (grades 3rd-7th) and Musical Revue (grades 3rd-12th).

From plotting aliens to want-to-get-rich-quick schemers, this year’s campers have been “Steppin’ to the Bad Side” and figured out “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” before learning the error of their ways and resolving to do better to save the planet and appreciate what really matters in life.

As a choreographer, I like to collaborate with students. On the first day, we listen to the song and take a moment to physically express ourselves, just moving to the music in an exploration of how it makes us feel. Then we take a few minutes to rest and talk about what we found, writing down the broad themes we discovered in the song.

Next, it’s time to write down steps. We break into groups of two or three, and each pair or trio is tasked with coming up with at least two dance steps to contribute. Then, each group takes a turn presenting to the others. I write down a name for each step on the board so we have a working list.

Then, I help the group decide where in the song we can put their original moves and add linking steps and modifications to make them work smoothly together in the song.

Musical Revue Rehearsal

In all of ETC's classes, camps and residencies, the process of how we create original work is just as important as the final product. This week, the oldest campers came up with a cool and intricate sequence to go with the rap in our closing number, “Price Tag.” Having never choreographed a rap before, I was truly dependent on their input and inspired by their focused work.

I saw first-hand this month how collaborating on choreography engages students and gets them really excited about their dance. The students' investment in learning and performing is what makes the final performance so spectacular. If you’d like to see it for yourself, join us for the Musical Revue sharing this Friday.

Musical Revue presents:

Money the Musical

Friday, August 18th at 5:30 PM at Williamsburg Middle School.

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