BWW Interviews: DARE TO DREAM Choreographer Cindy Stuart
Read BroadwayWorld's interview with Cindy Stuart, 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: How has your experience been working on Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream?
A: Working on Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream has been such a great experience for me because we're telling three very distinct stories-The Princess and the Frog, Cinderella and Tangled. These stories are so different in where they take us. For instance, The Princess and the Frog takes us to New Orleans in the 1920s, so our opening number is New Orleans jazz combined with the Charleston and "The Saints Go Marching In." That number in particular was so fun to choreograph because it brought back a whole different style of movement from a different era.
Q: What is your vision for the choreography in Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream?
A: I really wanted to take the audience on three distinct journeys. The first one being with The Princess and the Frog-we're in New Orleans dancing in the streets, and then we're in the Bayou with our little frog prince and princess. We have a wonderful number called, "Dig a Little Deeper," led by Mama Odie, and she's hilarious. She's got backup singers, a whole gospel choir of spoonbills, and if you didn't know what a spoonbill was before, you will now. It's a big pink bird that has a bill that has a spoon on it, hence, dig a little deeper. The costumes for this number are so extraordinary; they have big, expansive wings, and I really wanted to let them be the star of the number.
Q: What was one of the challenges you faced in bringing your vision to the ice?
A: One of the challenges of bringing my vision to the ice was actually choreographing skating frogs. Once we got to the ice, though, we really found the movement of the frog-kind of a light and bouncy sort of thing. We have this pair team that has unique tricks and moves that really lend themselves to reptilian style of movement.
Q: How did you prepare to bring the characters from the screen to the ice?
A: I watched the films over and over, I collaborated with our director, Patty Vincent, and we devised a way to adapt the movement that the animators have created. We choreographed the ice show as closely as we could to match the films and really tried to stay true to them.
Q: How did you incorporate the princesses' personalities into their skating and movement?
A: For me, incorporating the princesses' personalities really comes from the voice. For instance, Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Princess Tiana, has such an elegant, smooth way about her. So when Princess Tiana skates, she really has flowing, soft, elegant movements. In the case of Rapunzel, she's voiced by MAndy Moore, who has the sweetest voice on the face of this earth and who sings like an angel. In the final duet, when Flynn and Rapunzel are skating together, they're skating to an Oscar-nominated song sung by MAndy Moore called, "I See the Light." It's probably the most emotional I've ever gotten over creating a duet in my life, because the song is just so beautiful. MAndy Moore makes it easy for us.
Q: What was your favorite scene to choreograph and why?
A: My favorite scene to choreograph was the finale number called, "Something That I Want," a song used as the credit music for the end of Tangled. What I loved about it was that it was really upbeat, yet we had all those Disney Princesses out there in princess ball gowns. To me, it was like the after-wedding-party. It was just so much fun to see those princesses cut loose a little.
Q: This show is centered on dreams. What is your dream for the families that come to the show?
A: My dream for the families that come to see the show is that they'll take away a little bit of magic with them, and that they will have had three wonderful experiences with these new modern princesses as well as the classic Cinderella.
Q: What are some of your favorite moments in Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream?
A: I have two favorite moments in the show. First is the aerial silk act that Rapunzel and Flynn do. During the film, she jumps out of the tower on her hair. So the silk represents her hair, and they fly 25 feet in the air, and it's absolutely breathtaking. My other favorite moment in the show is the release of the floating lanterns. The whole arena is filled with lanterns, and it's absolutely magical.
Q: How did you transition from the aerial act back to the choreography on the ice?
A: In working with the aerial artists who helped design the flying number, we really wanted a blend of the aerial choreography and the ice choreography. When Rapunzel and Flynn are flying around the arena, they slowly descend to the ice. We keep that flow going so you have this feeling of constant movement, and it's really beautiful to see.
Q: What is one of the exciting scenes audiences will see in Disney On Ice presents Dare to Dream?
A: After Rapunzel meets Flynn Rider and she decides that she's going to leave the tower, the first place that he takes her is The Snuggly Duckling. It's such an ironic situation because she's never left the tower and the first place that he takes her is this tavern full of raucous pub thugs. It's the antithesis of what she is: she's quiet, beautiful, reserved and has good manners, and they're just burly, belching guys. She's never laid eyes on people like this in her life, yet she immediately whips them into shape. They start to do a Broadway-style production called, "I've Got a Dream," and it's all about where your dreams can take you and the idea of being a performer. So we have acrobatics, we have people standing on tables, we have skaters doing handstands. It's such a fun atmosphere, and it was really fun to choreograph it because it was very Broadway in style.
Q: How is your choreography affected by the music used in the show?
A: My choreography is really inspired by the music. It's the first thing that I go to when designing the number because it really tells me what to do. And in working with the music of Academy Award winners, Randy Newman and Alan Menken, sometimes choreography just comes pouring out of me because the music is so good. They're both very different; so in that sense, you get diversity in the choreography within one show, and it's so important for me to have a different style of movement for each number.