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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.
A few weeks ago, American Ballet Theatre announced the A.B.T. Women's Movement, a new program that will support three women choreographers per season, one of whom will make work on the main company.
"The ABT Women's Movement takes inspiration from the groundbreaking female choreographers who have left a lasting impact on ABT's legacy, including Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp," said artistic director Kevin McKenzie in a press release.
Hypothetically, this is a great idea. We're all for more ballet commissions for women. But the way ABT has promoted the initiative is problematic.
Some dancers move to New York City with their sights set on a dream job: that one choreographer or company they have to dance for. But when Maggie Cloud graduated from Florida State University in 2010, she envisioned herself on a less straightforward path.
"I always had in mind that I would be dancing for different people," she says. "I knew I had some kind of range that I wanted to tap into."
On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba tours the U.S. this spring with the resolute Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso a the helm. Named a National Hero of Labor in Cuba, Alonso, 97, has weathered strained international relations and devastating fiscal challenges to have BNC emerge as a world-class dance company. Her dancers are some of ballet's best. On offer this time are Alonso's Giselle and Don Quixote. The profoundly Cuban company performs in Chicago May 18–20, Tampa May 23, Washington, D.C., May 29–June 3 and Saratoga, New York June 6–8.
We all know that the general population's knowledge of ballet is sometimes...a bit skewed. (See: people touching their fingertips to the top of their head, and Kendall Jenner hopping around at the barre.)
Would your average Joe know how to do ballet's most basic step: a plié? Or, more to the point, even know what it is?
SELF decided to find out.
New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.
Who says you need fancy equipment to make a festival-worthy dance film? Right now, two New York City–based dance film festivals are calling for aspiring filmmakers to show their stuff—and you don't need anything more cumbersome than a smartphone to get in on the action.
Here's everything you need to know about how to submit:
When Lisset Santander bourréed onstage as Myrtha in BalletMet's Giselle this past February, her consummate portrayal of the Queen of the Wilis was marked by steely grace and litheness. The former Cuban National Ballet dancer had defected to the U.S. at 21, and after two years with the Ohio company, she's now closer to the dance career she says she always wanted: one of limitless possibilities.
For 17 years, James Samson has been the model Paul Taylor dancer. There is something fundamentally decent about his stage persona. He's a tall dancer—six feet—but never imposes himself. He's muscular, but gentle. And when he moves, it is his humanity that shines through, even more than his technique.
But all dancing careers come to an end, and James Samson's is no exception; now 43, he'll be retiring in August, after a final performance at the Teatro Romano in Verona, where he'll be dancing in Cloven Kingdom, Piazzolla Caldera and Promethean Fire.
The wait for Alexei Ratmansky's restaging of Petipa's Harlequinade is almost over! But if you can't wait until American Ballet Theatre officially debuts the ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House on June 6, we've got you covered. ABT brought the Harlequinade characters to life (and to the Alder Mansion in Yonkers, NY) in a short film by Ezra Hurwitz, and it's a guaranteed to make you laugh.
When an anonymous letter accused former New York City Ballet leader Peter Martins of sexual harassment last year, it felt like what had long been an open secret—the prevalence of harassment in the dance world—was finally coming to the surface. But the momentum of the #MeToo movement, at least in dance, has since died down.
Martins has retired, though an investigation did not corroborate any of the claims against him. He and former American Ballet Theatre star Marcelo Gomes, who suddenly resigned in December, were the only cases to make national headlines in the U.S. We've barely scratched the surface of the dance world's harassment problem.