Behind-the-Scenes with the Phantom Choreographers and Dancers

by Nicholas Sheets, dramaturg

This week I slipped into rehearsal to see what was going on with the dancers for Phantom. What I found was super neat. Just like the costume department, the dancing routines are divided as well. In other words, the dancing in this show is so intense that there are two faculty members at BYU heading up this show. Let me give you a breakdown.

First, we have Lisa Stoddard in charge of the Masquerade section. I spoke with her and asked her what it felt like to be choreographing a very important scene in Phantom. She mentioned it was kind of scary to take on this project. “It’s overwhelming, but it’s also fun.” She finds it neat to fulfill expectations of how people view the musical, but also to add her personal touch to the show through her choreography. Here is a clip of some of the masquerade dancing you’ll see when you come to the show. (I caught them with my camera phone, so forgive the quality!) Obviously when you come there’ll be lots of lights, music, and costumes.

Next, I spoke with Shani Robison, in charge of the dancing found in the opera scenes of Il Muto and Hannibal. She told me she had choreographed operas in the past, and that it had been a dream of hers to choreograph musical theater. She considers this opportunity an exciting honor. She’s working double-duty because she’s also in charge of BYU’s Theatre Ballet. Here’s a peak into her choreography for the show.

After rehearsal I spoke with Paige Hollingswort, Natalie Taylor, and Hilary Wolfley, all three members of the Ballet Ensemble within Phantom. Paige expressed how it had always been a dream of hers to dance in this musical. Now it’s come true! She’s also grateful to be around so many talented people. Natalie said her first show she saw on Broadway was The Phantom of the Opera. Since then she’s worked with professional theatre and now is combining her dance and theatrical talents in this production. Hilary loves the collaborative aspect of this show. For her it’s neat to work with different departments on campus like the School of Music, MDT (Music, Dance, Theater), Theatre, the Philharmonic Orchestra, etc.

There are so many integral parts to this show. You’ve seen the scenic designer’s work, the costumes, and now the ballet ensemble. In the next post you’ll see a little of what I did as a dramaturg to show the actors a bit about where they would live during the 1880’s in Paris. I pulled together this research to help them delve into their roles.

Until then, thanks for visiting!

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