Exclusive: Choreographer Rob Ashford Gives Us All the Deets on Broadway's 'Frozen'
Everyone's favorite animated Disney movie—starring Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and, of course, "Let It Go"—is headed to the stage. Frozen begins previews this month at Broadway's St. James Theatre and will officially open in March. The good news? It'll feature all of your favorite movie moments. The even better news? There'll be tons more dancing in the show than in the film, thanks to choreographer Rob Ashford (of Thoroughly Modern Millie, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and live television events "The Sound of Music Live!" and "Peter Pan Live!" fame). Dance Spirit spoke to Ashford to get all the cool details.
Frozen begins previews February 22nd and opens March 22nd.
What first drew you to Frozen?
Well, I love the animated film. It's terrific and it has a beautiful score. But what was very liberating was that there's not a lot of dance in it. I thought, "What a wonderful opportunity to find how this piece dances, and where the dance exists in the story of Elsa and Anna."
What's the choreography like?
The show has two worlds: There's a mythological world, the world of the hidden people in the mountains, and then there's also a fairy-tale world. It's been a great challenge to define the movement of these two different worlds and to make them unique. Because of this, the choreography is a hybrid of dance styles. There certainly is classic musical theater movement, but there's also a more contemporary feel to a lot of the dance vocabulary.
What was your overall vision for the dance?
I believe dance in a musical should always be about storytelling, but I also think it can be a real joy and very entertaining. So, there are some comic moments inside the show that I tried to mine for the dance. I wanted the choreography
to define the time and the place, but also to help tell the story.
Have there been any challenges?
Frozen demands elaborate costumes, and that's been a good challenge. Christopher Oram, our designer, has made some incredible things, but it's difficult to keep the truth of the movement when the dancers are in layers of period clothing. The costumes called for a rethink of some of the moves and some of the lifts.
What's your favorite part of the show?
One of my favorite dances is when Anna and Hans first meet, and they sing "Love is an Open Door." They're these two awkward and overzealous young people finding each other, and the way that they dance together was a lot of fun to create. The audience seems to love it, too.
A version of this story appeared in the February 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Winter Is Coming... to Broadway."
Misty Copeland. Her name is synonymous with exquisite artistry and outspoken advocacy. And her visibility has made a huge impact on the ballet world. Ballet's relationship with race has always been strained at best, hostile at worst. But Copeland's persistent message and star quality have finally forced the ballet industry to start talking about racial diversity, inclusivity, and representation. "The rarity of seeing ourselves represented is sad," Copeland says. "The more we see every hue and body shape represented on the stage, the more possibilities young dancers feel they have for themselves."
"Whole, low-fat, or skim?" The question of which milk to drink has gotten a little more complicated lately, with a wide variety of nondairy milks popping up in grocery stores. To find out which ones are worth your milk money, we had registered dietitian Monika Saigal answer some FAQs.
Yesterday, the dance community was heartbroken to learn that Jaime Guttenberg and Cara Loughran, both 14-year-old dancers, were among the 17 people killed on Valentine's Day in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
American Ballet Theatre principal Sarah Lane charms audiences with her bright energy and crisp technique. The San Francisco, CA, native first started dancing at age 4 at a local community center, and at age 7 started training in Memphis, TN, at the Classical Ballet Memphis. Her family later moved to Rochester, NY, where she continued studying at the Draper Center for Dance Education. In 2002, she was a YoungArts Foundation winner in dance, allowing her to become a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. She joined American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in 2003, was made a soloist in 2007, and was promoted to principal last fall. Recently, she originated the role of Princess Praline in Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream. Catch her later this spring during ABT's Metropolitan Opera season. —Courtney Bowers
You and I both know that dancing is the best thing since chocolate chip cookies! But its always nice when dance gets the recognition it deserves from non–dance-world peeps. That's why we did our own happy dance when we saw Shape magazine's article on how dancing can actually make you a better athlete.
When Ruby Castro became a Top 10 finalist on "So You Think You Can Dance" Season 13, she was a fresh, feisty new face to most at-home viewers. But in the dance world—particularly on the ballroom circuit—Ruby was already a household name. Miami-based Ruby grew up as a belle of the ballroom: Her parents, Manny and Lory Castro, are veritable superstars of the scene. They're the owners of Dance Town, an ultra-competitive studio in Doral, FL, and raised Ruby to follow in their furiously fast footsteps. Before she graced the "SYT" stage, Ruby had already been named a U.S. Junior Champion in Latin Ballroom, and competed on "America's Got Talent"—twice!
So, we know she's talented, we know she's versatile, we know she's stunning, and we know she can dance. But here's what you may not know about Ruby.
You know that thing when you're onstage at a competition and you catch your teacher unconsciously marking through every step of the choreography in the wings, just willing you and the rest of the group to dance perfectly?
Yeah—that happens in ice dancing, too. Case in point: the scene at the Olympic rink yesterday, as Canadian ice-dancing legends Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skated their way to their third Olympic gold.
Obviously, their performance was all kinds of epic. But the off-ice "performance" given by their coach, Marie-France Dubreuil, was EVERYTHING.
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan
In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email email@example.com for a chance to be featured!
I want to dance in a ballet company, but I'm insecure about my body. I'm not skinny, and I don't think I ever will be, because that's just not the way I'm built. Please be honest with me: If I don't have the traditional ballet body, do I have a future in professional ballet?