This is part one of a three-part series on the dance and choreography in A Chorus Line, the 2019 Upper School spring musical. We talked with Vlad Derisier — the show’s choreographer — about the preparation that goes into a dance-centric main-stage production.
That’s roughly the amount of time choreographer and dance teacher Vlad Derisier has from auditions to opening night to transform 27 Beaver students into A Chorus Line.
But Derisier isn’t keeping count. When asked, he himself didn’t know the number of weeks remaining and is instead focused on preparing the cast — some who have never danced before and many who haven’t danced at this level — to be able to keep up with the physical demands of a dance-heavy production.
“They’re dancing every single day. And now with Saturday rehearsals, some of the students are dancing six days a week. We’ve done a lot of preparing and getting in shape for the show — stretching, conditioning, core. It’s serious work.”
— Vlad Derisier
A Chorus Line is a show about 17 Broadway dancers auditioning for spots on a chorus line. The whole production is centered around dance, which means each movement needs to be clear and precise.
“The dancing is very specific and it has to look a certain way,” Derisier said. “There has to be a certain level of quality,”
This also means the approach to teaching students the choreography in these numbers is different from other productions. Derisier says he ususally starts at the beginning and works his way through a show, but that’s not the case with A Chorus Line.
“We have to go through each number and combination with a fine-tooth comb to perfect it before moving on,” he said.
It’s a lot of work for everyone involved, but while Derisier said it can be overwhelming at times, he’s mainly very excited at what he knows is going to be a fantastic final product.
“This is going to be a show for the books,” he said.
But, he added, “There’s still a lot of work left to do.”
Up next: In part two of our series, we’ll talk with students in the cast on their experience learning and perfecting the choreography of A Chorus Line.
A Chorus Line is May 16, 17, and 18.
Online tickets go on sale Monday, May 13.
More about dance at Beaver: