Mandy Moore On How She Juggles Being One of the Busiest Choreographers in Hollywood
In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win.
You've come a long way on "So You Think You Can Dance"—from assistant to the choreographer (Season 1) to creative producer (Season 14). What keeps you returning to the show?
"So You Think You Can Dance" was one of my first jobs, so it feels like home. I love the chaos of live television; as soon as one show is over you're on to the next.
Moore won her first Emmy Award in 2017. Photo by Lee Cherry, Courtesy Bloc Agency
What's your process for choreographing within such a limited time frame?
When I first started choreographing for "SYTYCD" on Season 3, I prepped the entire thing in advance. But then I'd create an amazing routine for two contemporary dancers and find out I'd be working with a tap and a hip-hop dancer—with only six hours of rehearsal. Now I'll have a few sections or an outline prepared. Then I give myself space to create on the dancers' bodies.
How is the process different for "Dancing with the Stars"?
My numbers for "DWTS" are big, splashy productions, so I have to access a completely different skill set. It takes a lot of cerebral thinking—figuring out formations, costumes, song edits, phrasing of movement, staging and camera angles. It's very mathematical.
And I imagine the time in pre-production is much longer when you're working on a major film like La La Land?
Oh my god, yes. "Another Day of Sun," the opening number for La La Land, was the most pre-production I'd ever done. There were so many logistics: Which way are the cars facing? How much space is between them? Does it have a reinforced roof? It took months of that before I could even start to think about steps.
You won your first Emmy Award in 2017 for "DWTS," bringing you to one win and six nominations. Do the nods lose any of their weight over time?
When I was first nominated in 2008, I didn't even know choreographers could get Emmys. It's definitely on my mind when I'm choreographing now—and in the years that I haven't been nominated, I can't help but think, "Oh man, did my moves suck this year?" I know how hard it is to get noticed for live television.
When they called my name, all I felt was an incredible sense of gratitude. The award doesn't just represent those two numbers; it represents hundreds of numbers and countless hours of work with so many people. I'm in the process of moving, so the Emmy is still in its box. I'll have to find a special place for it in my new house.
You've worked across what seems like every genre—movies, television, commercials, concerts, award shows. What space do you feel most connected to?
I still feel most comfortable in a dance studio teaching, which has always been my main focus. But in terms of choreography, live television is where I feel most at home.
With all those hours on set, do you have time to soak it all in and unwind?
Honestly, not really. I'm trying to learn a bit more about balance, because I'm not very good at it. Life goes quickly, and I want to do as much as I can. And last year was certainly the craziest yet. I've realized that what I really need in my life now is a lot more snowboarding.
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.