Putting It Together: Creating, Rehearsing, and Performing
Musical Theatre Choreography
Faculty Mentor: George Nelson, TMA
As a dancer the music dance theatre program, who is pursuing his goal to be on Broadway, the
chance to be the dance captain for a musical is a priceless opportunity. When I was asked to be
the dance captain for BYU’s stage production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, I jumped at the
opportunity. Getting the chance to work closely with a director like George Nelson as well as
choreographer Becky Write Phillips was something I could not pass up, even though I was taking
21 credits; it was a challenge I was willing to take on. I knew the experience was something I
needed for my resume since I did not have much experience in professional theatre.
To prepare for rehearsals, I did a little bit of research to help both George and Becky with
movement that would fit the time period they wanted to portray. I was looked at to help come up
with choreography that was true to the story and worked well with the blocking George had
already set for the actors. As the dance captain, I also set up a private Facebook group for the
cast where I would post recordings of the choreography we learned that day in rehearsal. I did
that so they could practice outside of rehearsal and, if they had any questions about what they
saw, they could then ask me with specific examples. We had two girls drop out of the musical at
two different times. The first time was ok because it was pretty early in the rehearsal process
and we were able to replace her. The second time, the girl got a concussion in the middle of the
rehearsal time frame and we had to quickly find someone who could sing, dance, act, and dance
en pointe. Luckily we found a very talented girl who I worked with outside of rehearsals to
catch her up on all of her blocking and choreography.
There were some great things that came about because of this process. First of all, we had an
amazing show that was very cohesive and beautifully done. We were adjudicated by a member
of KCACTF and were even invited to attend the national competition in Hawaii. Unfortunately,
we could not get the funding in such a short time and were not able to go but are very confident
we would have won. We did, however, touch many peoples’ lives through the storytelling.
George wanted the feeling to be “kids finding objects in an attic and playing pretend.” We
started the show with it and ended the show by putting the “toys” back in their place and leaving
the attic. It was not flashy in any of the set design or costuming, but was just true storytelling.
One of the best things I could take away from being the dance captain and working so closely
with such renowned director and choreographer is the experience. I tried to soak up everything
they did and taught me through this process so that I can use it in my future career. Another
thing I got out of this experience is the credit on my professional resume. To say that I was
dance captain for a show shows that I can handle the responsibility of knowing the choreography
and helping anyone who is struggling with any of it. I loved pushing and supporting each
member of the cast to be the best they could be. Some were a little more “green” than others but
in the end, they were all close to the same level.
Having the ORCA Grant, made it possible for me to be the dance captain. It helped me so much
because it was difficult to work my early morning custodial job while having rehearsals go late at
night as well as having 21 credits. I have since moved to New York City, and am currently
auditioning to be in shows. I have been in the final callbacks for a few shows and attribute that
to having dance captain and George Nelson’s name on my resume. I look forward to being in
my first Broadway show or National tour and know the experience I have received from this
show will help me immensely with my career.