Teen Intensives Behind the Scenes: Dance Choreography

Paige Kohler: Dance Choreographer

Paige Kohler: Dance Choreographer

We also interviewed Paige Kohler, the dance choreographer for both Sweeney Todd: School Edition and Titus Andronicus.

1.) Is it hard to choreograph around the pit?

I have choreographed on all sorts of sets in different theaters and I don’t think the pit presented too many challenges. It’s been fun since I’ve never had to work choreography around one before and being able to have kids enter the stage from it has been a new, fun way for the audience to see dances emerge onto the stage.

2.) What is it like choreographing two shows?

This is my 5th summer with the Teen Intensives, and one year I had to choreograph three shows so only having to do two is nothing. I’ve also already choreographed Into the Woods, Jr and Guys and Dolls which have both opened so I’m winding down this busy summer with the
awesome teen intensive division.

3.) Is it different choreographing when the cast isn’t singing?

It’s not too different, but I can get a little more crazy with the cast that isn’t singing since I don’t have to take into consideration about their breath support or mic packs. Also, with the musicals, the lyrics they’re singing are telling the story more so and the choreography supports it. There are built-in ‘dance breaks’ which are written into musical numbers where they only dance and the singing subsides for a bit. In our non-musicals, Kate inserts dance numbers for me which usually support or replace a scene. So the music that is chosen either has lyrics to support the scene or suggest what the scene is about and then the dancers have to portray it with their bodies versus their words. I was trained as a classical ballet dancer and that is what we do. We tell stories with our bodies and emotions rather than words so I enjoy going back to that every summer with these types of shows.

4.) How long have you been dancing?

I started dancing ballet when I was 3. As I got older, I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life and dancing just a few times a week wasn’t going to cut it. When I was 12, my parents decided to drive me 5 days a week to the School of the Minnesota Ballet here in Duluth from Spooner, WI where I grew up. They did this until I graduated high school. By the time I graduated, I had already signed a contract to dance professionally.

5.) What got you interested in it?

I’m the youngest of 3 girls and my older sisters were in dance class. I would always watch their class and then try to copy what they did at home. I would always watch ballet movies and try to copy them, and then as I got older, I would always put on ‘shows’ for my stuffed animals and family. When I was old enough, my parents put me in dance class and I’ve been dancing ever since.

A dance number in the English National Opera’s performance of 'Sweeney Todd.'

A dance number in the English National Opera’s performance of ‘Sweeney Todd.’

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