The Smooth Moves on “Smash”

The cast of "Smash" (Will Hart/NBC)

First there was “Fame,” then there was “Glee” and now there’s a new you’ll-want-to-sing-and-dance-along show coming to the small screen: “Smash,” from executive producer Steven Spielberg. The show is about a musical composer named Tom (Christian Borle) and a lyricist named Julia (Debra Messing), who are working to get a Marilyn Monroe–themed musical off the ground. Naturally, drama ensues: Should they cast sassy theater veteran Ivy (Megan Hilty) or doe-eyed newcomer Karen (Katharine McPhee) in the leading role?
We don’t know who will snag the spotlight, but we do know that any good Broadway-based show is sure to have plenty of dancing! Josh Bergasse, a musical theater veteran himself, is the show’s choreographer, and he gave us the scoop on what we can expect from “Smash.”
(Hint: “There’s tons of music, tons of dance and tons of drama,” he says.)

Dance Spirit: How did you get involved with the show?

Josh Bergasse: Michael Mayer, the director of the show’s first three episodes, saw my choreography at a benefit I did at New York University. A month later he approached me about working on “Smash.”

The first day of filming was so exciting. I had never been on a shoot that was quite so big! The dancers and I felt really great about the number we were filming, but I was nervous as to how it would read on camera. The footage is gorgeous—everything pops.

DS: How much dancing is in the show?

JB: Each episode has at least one big dance number, and some episodes have more. I have a core group of 10 dancers I use, and I call in more dancers for bigger numbers.

DS: What is the choreography like?

JB: It’s a mix of classic Broadway, contemporary, hip hop and old–Hollywood musical–style numbers. The script calls for all kinds of different things, like routines with Marilyn and the male cast members and routines at a hip and edgy rock show.

DS: The show includes some great actors but many of them aren’t dancers. Are you still making them dance?

JB: Yes, even the non–dance-trained cast members are dancing! They’re handling it beautifully and are having a blast.

DS: What is your advice for DS readers who want to dance on a TV show?

JB: Get an agent. It’s tough to get into some auditions without one. It also helps to be fluent in many different styles of dance. On our show, for example, you never know what style will be needed from one episode to the next.

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