Young Dancers Use Social Media to Put a Modern Twist on a Classic Musical
Ever since it was first performed on a Broadway stage back in 1975 and later premiered as a movie in 1985, the excitement and mystique of the dance world demonstrated in the classic musical A Chorus Line has been captivating aspiring young dancers.
Centered on 17 Broadway dancers auditioning for spots on a chorus line, the musical is set on the bare stage of a Broadway theatre during that audition for a musical production. A Chorus Line offers a glimpse into the personalities of the performers as they describe the events that have shaped their lives and their decisions to become dancers.
Now, Man In Motion (a company who acts as a liaison between Broadway guest artists and local dance studios and dance organizations) has released a short dance film on social media based on the classic musical. The film, titled “She’s the One,” incorporates many memorable aspects from A Chorus Line, in combination with some more modern elements involving the music and choreography.
“She’s the One” is the brain child of Jason Warley, director of services and owner of Man In Motion, who served as producer of the short dance film. Watch It Now!
“I wanted to offer our young (social media) followers a peek into the real world of auditioning - all of the excitement, all of the joy, and often times, all of the intimidation that goes into dancing professionally,” said Jason. “That’s what A Chorus Line did for me when I saw the movie for the first time.”
Dancers captured during a scene from, She's The One. Photo: Stephen Agisilaou
Once the idea had been formulated in his mind, Jason immediately contacted videographer Drew James. Together, they decided that the project had to pay homage to the classic musical, while also interweaving a sub plot that young dancers of today could relate to.
He said it was also important to choose choreographers that are versatile enough to create movement that would have a seamless blend of styles from the 1970s and ‘80s as well as today.
Jason called on Jon Merced, Kevin Raponey, Stephen Agisilaou, and Drew James to create that perfect blend.
The audition was announced through social media and elsewhere – and well over 100 young dancers from New York, New Jersey and around the Northeast signed up and arrived on that morning feeling hungry and ready to work.
"As a dance educator, I try to bring an educational aspect to every dance experience", said Warley. "Part of learning about the auditioning process is understanding that as a dancer you won’t be chosen for every cast. But the key is to stay positive and continue to stay focused and work hard for the next audition".
Chloe is a 13-year-old dancer who is just getting started in the industry. This Man In Motion project was her very first audition. Chloe’s mother, Kate Dudonis, said she chose this project because she has danced with MIM instructors several times at her studio and also attended their Dance In New York City One-day Intensive – so that familiarity would be a good way to ease her in and take some of the anxiousness away.
Chloe was not chosen this time, but her mother believes the experience was still extremely valuable for her.
“This audition process was incredible,” Kate said. “Not every child can make it, but every child that didn’t came out with a smile and a great attitude about the experience. No child felt that they had done poorly or that they didn't measure up - and I saw absolutely no tears. The entire audition process was so positive - and I would definitely recommend it to any dancer.
“We knew she would be one of the youngest dancers there (and she was) - and we knew the chances were better than not that it would be a ‘no’ at the end,” she added. “But the wealth of experience she gained in that afternoon is immeasurable. On the train ride home, I asked my daughter ‘Would you like to continue auditioning, or did this turn you off to the experience?’ After her first rejection (of many, I’m sure), her answer was a resounding ‘Oh, I'm not quitting!’”
Kevin Raponey actually performed in the national touring production of A Chorus Line from 2012-2013 as a swing. He covered five men on the ‘line’ as well as the lead, Zach. So he brought a unique and valuable perspective to this project as a co-choreographer.
“It was a great experience to be ‘on the other side of the table,’ so to speak, and help cast this short dance film and see so many hungry dancers who eventually want to do this for a living,” said Kevin. “It takes me back to when I first moved to the city and wanted all of this so badly. I was so honored to work with all of the talent that was chosen for this project; I saw a lot of myself in them. It truly was an unforgettable time for me.”
With the audition completed, the crew made their selections – and they had a cast of 40 young dancers, 8 boys and 32 girls ranging in age from 13-18 and rehearsal began the very next day.
Dancers block out a scene before shooting. Photo: Stephen Agisilaou
Much like a professional Broadway production might rehearse its cast, the dancers had an eight hour day of learning the material with a one hour lunch break. In the case of this project, the rehearsal process was only one day and the shoot took place a week later.
The scene that was used to open the short film is the classic audition scene that opens both the Broadway show and the movie versions of A Chorus Line. This is the scene that moves fast and gives viewers an insight into what a real audition is like.
As the videographer and editor, Drew James felt it was important that he study both the camera frames and angles, as well as key aspects of the original production of the musical.
“I personally saw the raw, realistic glimpse into the lives of these dancers at a grueling audition in the big city,” said Drew. “Viewers (of this short film) can expect to see ‘classic moments’ and identify characters from the original film.”
Man In Motion added a sub plot that young people can relate to – that being the idea of innocent attraction, with two boys vying for one girl's attention. That plot is woven into the audition scene.
The creative team also modernized the movement and switched up the music a bit to make things feel a bit more current. Jeff Warley, Jr., owner of Successful Music, successfully blended in moments from the original work with other music that matched the theme of the film.
Dancer listens closely for direction during shoot. Photo: Stephen Agisilaou
“When I walk away from this project, it is these kids who have inspired me the most and tapped into the spirit of what A Chorus Line is really all about,” said Jason. “Their passion for dance, seemingly against all odds, is what resonates with so many dancing hopefuls who travel into New York City with a real passion, and a dream. They ARE the story of A Chorus Line. They starve, they crave – and they will do whatever they need to do to dance.”
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Man In Motion is a network of over 60 dance educators and choreographers serving as a resource to local dance studios and organizations Our services include, providing full-time and part-time dance instructors, master classes/workshops, choreography for competition, in-studio convention, and more!