Photo by Walter McBride for BroadwayWorld

Dancer Yesenia Ayala Talks About Her Broadway Debut In "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"

Dancer Yesenia Ayala first caught our eye in the off-Broadway production of Sweet Charity with Sutton Foster earlier this year. So, we were super excited when we found out she was making her Broadway debut in this spring's sweetest new show Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (Both productions were choreographed by Joshua Bergasse.)


Ayala recently took BroadwayWorld backstage and gave some insight into what it's like to dance in the production—most importantly, what becoming an Oompa Loompa every night is like. To which she replied, "You know I wasn't really sure what I was getting myself into when I signed on for this show! [laughing] Honestly, I don't want to say too much about the Oompas because we want to keep them a delicious surprise. What I can say is it's not how you would typically execute dance choreography. So for those sections, [choreographer] Josh Bergasse had Basil Twist to help translate his choreography to the methods specific to the physicality and mechanics of the Oompa Loompas."

She also dished on her favorite part to play in the show: "It's actually a lot of fun to be an ensemble member because you get to create the world in which the main characters can live and tell their story. From being a townsperson, to a Bavarian dancer, to a cheerleader and a reporter, we get to play such different characters and do so many styles of dance. My favorite number in the show is probably 'It Must Be Believed to Be Seen' which is the end of Act One. It's the most typical big Broadway song and dance number."

Head to BroadwayWorld.com to hear more details about what making her Broadway debut has been like and to see more backstage pics. It's #MotivationMonday dreams!

Latest Posts


Because you know you've always wondered... (Getty Images)

Sounding Off: Here's What Your Favorite Musicians Think of Dance Routines Set to Their Songs

In the competition world, a small group of musicians has attained almost cultlike status, with choreographers turning to their tracks over and over. We know how we feel about these bangers—there's a reason we can't stop dancing to them—but how do the musicians feel about us? We caught up with three contemporary artists whose music has dominated the competition scene recently, and gauged their reactions to the dances set to their life's work.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Challenge Your Friends and Family to This TikTok Ballet Quiz

The latest popular TikTok dance challenge isn't the "Renegade," or set to "Savage," by Megan Thee Stallion—it's testing how much your friends and family really know about what you do in the studio all day.

TikTok user @kayausvlogs recorded herself asking her partner to guess what common ballet terms look like based on the way they sound. The results were...mixed, to say the least—and pretty hilarious. Naturally, the trend went viral, and now dancers everywhere are testing their friends and family and posting the results. Here are some of our favorites.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search