BWW Interviews: DARE TO DREAM Associate Choreographer Ben Agosto
Read BroadwayWorld's interview with Ben Agosto, Associate Choreographer of Disney On Ice presents "Dare to Dream." The show comes to Fresno (Jan 30 - Feb 4), Stockton (Feb 7-10), Sacramento (Feb 13-18), San Jose (Feb 20-24), and Oakland (Feb 27 - March 3). More information and tickets can be found at http://disney.go.com/disneyonice/.
Q: What was it like working with Choreographer Cindy Stuart?
A: I was so lucky to have the opportunity to work with Cindy Stuart for my very first experience doing choreography. She is a creative genius. She has so much energy and passion for her work. Our planning sessions were so much fun. We listened to the music for the show, talked about what the overall creative idea would be, and then we played around with it. We skated together, we danced together, and it felt as if we had been working together for years. Our work really flowed very naturally; it was just an incredible experience.
Q: What is the most valuable thing you learned from Cindy Stuart?
A: Cindy has so much experience choreographing for large groups. I had only experienced choreography for a skating duo: myself and my skating partner. It is inspiring the way Cindy can envision an entire group, what each skater will be doing, how each person will be moving, and how such amazing shapes will be made. I was very lucky to be a part of that kind of planning.
Q: What from your competitive background and show career have you been able to apply to this show?
A: My competitive background and my show career have given me the opportunity to develop a good way of working with an audience. I truly enjoyed performing to the best of my ability while following the choreography of a show; so I really try to bring that energy to the process of assisting in the development of the choreography for Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream. I also try to inspire the cast to do the choreography the way Choreographer Cindy Stuart wants it to be done, and how I envision it being done. So when I demonstrate it, I go "over the top." Displaying that kind of enthusiasm is really important for the high-energy numbers. I hope the audience will experience the festive, party atmosphere the choreography inspires.
Q: What has been the biggest surprise in working on a show like this?
A: Working on Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream has been a real eye-opener for me. Actually, I had never seen a Disney On Ice show before coming to work here. The scope and scale of the production is really awesome. The sets are incredible, the costumes are amazing and the stories are very epic; so it's a huge production. I was amazed by the number of people who have worked tirelessly for so long to put this show together. It's very humbling to be even a small part of that. To see the whole thing come together is very exciting.
Q: What was the biggest challenge in working on Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream?
A: The most challenging thing for me in working on Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream was trying to choreograph for people who are wearing costumes that are not your normal skating costumes. The most challenging number to choreograph, at least for me, was "Dig a Little Deeper," with Mama Odie and the spoonbills in the Bayou. There is a whole group of them and they have wings instead of arms. The skaters have their hands in these wings. It was really fun to experiment with how to mimic the movement of a bird, making the movement fun and exciting and still incorporating skating into it as well.
Q: Do you have a favorite moment in Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream?
A: It is really hard for me to pick out a favorite moment in the show because all the numbers are so different. Also, all the couples that skate together have very different qualities. We have an adagio team, which is a form of pair skating where the skaters perform many spectacular lifts, an ice dance team, and a competitive pairs team. Everybody has their own strengths and their own personalities. The whole show is a very interesting blend; so everything balances out perfectly.
Q: Describe the choreography overall in Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream.
A: The overall idea with the choreography for Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream was to make it a lot of fun and really fresh. Cindy Stuart, right off the bat, said that she wanted the show to have a party atmosphere and to bring something new that people were not really used to seeing. We started with the opening number for The Princess and the Frog and really tried to make it a big, Broadway dance number. It was fun for me because we just got to dance together and make up a whole Charleston routine, which was a blast because I haven't gotten to do that since I was competing.