Choreographing the Musical: Urine for a Good Show

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In my first two years of highschool, I danced in the ensemble in our school’s annual winter musical. Being a part of these productions was an incredibly valuable experience. Some of my fondest memories from the season were bonding with the cast backstage and collaborating with the Dance Captains. In those months I formed some of my closest friendships with people who shared the same passion for performance as me. Although each year I was sad to see the graduating Seniors leave, the bond of “Team Musical” continued and people kept in contact. The legacy of professionalism, commitment and friendliness that Seniors left for rising underclassmen lived on. I was determined to one day become one of those role models who I had admired and looked up to; I wanted to create a similar positive experience for the underclassmen in my following years.

So, when my drama teacher asked me to be her Dance Captain in my Junior year, I was honored. I happily accepted the position despite the large responsibility it would be during a busy year. However, my dreams of assistant choreographing and transcending the example of the alumni I adored were abruptly shattered when I learned I would be leaving my school in the winter and moving to Switzerland. Reluctantly, I returned to my teacher and resigned the position I had so looked forward to.  

Luckily, ZIS has an equally amazing, welcoming and professional theater department.  In my first few months at school, I performed as a dancer in the school’s play: Alice in Wonderland. The positive atmosphere the show created encouraged me to return again this year to perform in the fall musical, Urinetown. To my wonderful surprise, my sister and I were asked to choreograph for the production. We gladly accepted the position and immediately got to work.  

It was not until the auditions began that I became slightly doubtful of my abilities: I may have been overambitious. Although I had been so certain in the past that this was a leadership role I desired, maybe I was not as fitting for the job as I originally thought.

With college applications and school work, most seniors would agree that autumn is an insanely busy time of year. As a perfectionist and bit of a control freak, I intended to put my full concentration into whatever number I was choreographing. Finding time in my schedule that coordinated with my sister’s proved difficult. Moreover, I had not considered that many of the students had little to no prior dance training. I had previously choreographed small pieces, however the pupils had always had some sort of dance experience. In the beginning, choosing steps that were suitable for the cast – and that showcased their talent – was challenging. Finally, as someone more reserved and shy by nature, the idea of asking fellow peers to respect me as a teacher was daunting.  

However, all of my concerns were quickly obliterated after our first dance audition. To my pleasant surprise, Sydney and I were asked to lead the audition. It ran much smoother than I could have ever expected. Every auditionee was attentive, cooperative and respectful. Even better, they all picked up the choreography quickly despite the fast pace and intricate moves.  

Their success excited and inspired Sydney and I. With the ensemble’s positive and ambitious attitudes in mind, we no longer hesitated to include fancy footwork or tricks that we might have been reluctant to add before.  

Every rehearsal people come prepared to absorb whatever we throw at them. The styles of dance in this musical range from simple jazz, to more traditional folk dancing and even tap. I am beyond impressed with the resilience, determination and flexibility, this cast has shown. I am extremely fortunate to work with such an incredible and talented group of people.  

As such, I cannot wait for the rest of the school to see the end product of these students’ hard work. I am certain that the dancing of this show will be as pleasurable to watch in the audience as it has been to create it.  

Abby Tattle ’16

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