The Creative Process
Shankman on the set of 2007's Hairspray. Photo by Daniel James, courtesy Shankman

Adam Shankman came into the spotlight in 2007 when he choreographed and directed the movie-musical Hairspray and made his first appearances on the "So You Think You Can Dance" judging panel. But he was already more than a decade into his career as a choreographer and budding director. Today, Shankman is a Hollywood mainstay who has worked on scores of movies, TV shows and commercials, including dance classics like the Step Up franchise, which he produced. Next up: Directing the film What Men Want, which opens in January.

He recently spoke to Dance Magazine about his path to Hollywood and why the dance studio remains his favorite place.

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The Creative Process
Reggie Wilson uses his dances to process ideas. Photo by Aitor Mendilibar

With a blend of postmodern and black aesthetics, Reggie Wilson's work explores connections between secular and spiritual cultures of the African diaspora in the Americas. Audiences are drawn to his unique synergy of formal rigor, playfulness and depth.

The Milwaukee-raised award-winning choreographer formed Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group in Brooklyn in 1989 after dancing for Ohad Naharin. Most recently, he curated the 2018 Danspace Project's Dancing Platform Praying Grounds: Blackness, Churches, and Downtown Dance.

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The Creative Process
Ezra Hurwitz has created a successful second career in film. Photo by Erin Baiano, courtesy Hurwitz.

Ezra Hurwitz's dance trailers are tailor-made for going viral. His fast-moving shorts highlight not only the glamour of dance but also the grit, with a stylish Millennial sensibility.

The former Miami City Ballet corps member has been tapped by everyone from San Francisco Ballet to The Kennedy Center to Broadway's Chicago. He's also done commercials for non-dance companies like WeWork and Opening Ceremony, and collaborated on a music video for The National with Justin Peck. But no matter who's in front of the camera, his dancer's eye is always behind it.

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The Creative Process
Orr at a rehearsal of Power Up. Photo by Nancy Mims, courtesy Forklift Danceworks

Austin renegade Allison Orr doesn't use traditional performers. With her Forklift Danceworks, she has created dances featuring everyone from sanitation workers (The Trash Project) to power linemen (PowerUP), urban forestry department members (The Trees of Govalle) and food service employees (Served).

Orr has a BA in anthropology and calls her process "ethnographic choreography." Using the movements of everyday workers, she crafts large-scale extravaganzas that have included more than 75 performers (and sometimes trucks), audiences of 2,000, and a deep research process that may involve her learning how to scale a power-line distribution pole or riding with a sanitation worker at 4 am.

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The Creative Process
Arlene Shuler is currently prepping for City Center's 75th anniversary celebration. Photo by Stephanie Berger, courtesy City Center

When Arlene Shuler performed at New York City Center as a young Joffrey Ballet dancer, she never imagined that she would someday become the theater's president and chief executive officer.

After a short dance career—four years with The Joffrey—she decided she wanted to experience college. That led to law school, and, eventually, arts administration.

With this mixed background, Shuler, who came to City Center in 2003, has redefined the venue. Her biggest accomplishment is the popular Fall for Dance Festival, a mixed bill of performances at $15 a pop. As the theater prepares to celebrate its 75th-anniversary season, Shuler is looking to keep building the City Center brand with new commissions and expanded audiences.

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The Creative Process
Crystal Pite rehearsing at National Ballet of Canada. Photo by Karolina Kuras, courtesy NBoC

Crystal Pite is a busy woman.

While her company, Kidd Pivot, toured the globe recently performing Betroffenheit—its acclaimed collaboration with Jonathon Young and fellow Canadians Electric Company Theatre—Pite herself launched three productions at three of the world's foremost dance companies: Nederlands Dans Theater (The Statement, February 2016), the Paris Opéra Ballet (The Seasons' Canon, fall 2016), and London's Royal Ballet (Flight Pattern, spring 2017).

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The Creative Process
Brandon Sterling Baker never tries to make it a "light show." Photo by Lora Robertson, courtesy Baker

He may not be a household name, but you probably know Brandon Stirling Baker's work. The 30-year-old has designed the lighting for most of Justin Peck's ballets—including Heatscape for Miami City Ballet, and the edgy The Times Are Racing for New York City Ballet—but also Jamar Roberts' new Members Don't Get Weary at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a trio of Martha Graham duets for L.A. Dance Project.

He's been fascinated by lighting ever since he attended a public performing arts middle school in Sherman Oaks, California, where he had his first experiences lighting shows. He also has a background in music (he plays guitar and bass) and in drawing. Both, he says, are central to the way he approaches lighting dance.

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The Creative Process
Screenshot via Instagram @theiterationproject

As most creativity/productivity/goal-achieving advice columns will tell you, accountability is key to success—it helps you show up and do the hard work on the days when you really, really don't want to. But what if you're, say, a choreographer who doesn't live in a major dance center and therefore don't have that built-in community support?

Cue The Iteration Project, an online platform that delivers weekly prompts and shares responses from artists working in any medium, anywhere, and its recently announced TIP Partner Program.

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