Dancing is a family affair for two of the HSM choreographers. Chucky Klapow’s sister Kim danced on the HSM concert tour, which followed the first movie, and was hired for HSM2 and 3 as well. Bonnie Story’s daughters Kelli, 18, and Bayli, 16, have danced in all three HSMs too. (In HSM2, Kelli played a name character — Lea, one of the “Sharpettes” connected to Ashley Tisdale’s character.)
Now maybe you’re thinking, They probably got the job because of family. If so, you’re not alone — they hear that all the time! “It sucks,” Bayli told me. “It’s one of the downfalls to it. It is hard, it really is … People don’t realize my mom can’t give me a job. People don’t realize the process.”
The truth: They had to earn the job by themselves by auditioning, advancing, and gaining the approval of filmmakers at multiple levels. Connections can get you auditions, but no choreographer or director will hire someone who’s not good enough to do the job. If someone like Kenny Ortega did that, then his reputation would suffer because the product on film would be subpar.
“It’s a good thing that Kenny loves her,” Chucky told me in Los Angeles last summer, motioning to Kim, who was sitting across the table from him in the lounge at Debbie Reynolds Studio. “Kenny likes her a lot. I always get nervous for her when she’s auditioning.”
“When I auditioned [for HSM], you got teary-eyed,” Kim said to Chucky.
“Yeah,” Chucky said. “I was so nervous for her but at the same time she came in and brought her A-game and blew everyone away and I was like, Yessss!’ I was so proud of you.”
The A-game. That’s exactly what it takes to get a job like HSM — no matter what your name may be.