Family Matters

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.

Latest Posts


Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by Jamayla Burse

Catching Up With Christian Burse, Comp Kid Turned Complexions Rising Star

With her nearly limitless facility, well-timed dynamics and incredible control, Christian Burse's future as a dancer was guaranteed to be bright. A student at the renowned Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, and at Dance Industry Performing Arts Center in Plano, TX, Burse has consistently made waves: She won first runner-up for Teen Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in 2019, received a grant for summer study at Juilliard from the Texas Young Masters program in 2020, and was named a YoungArts finalist for dance in 2021.

So, it wasn't all that surprising when Burse announced that, at just 17 years old, she would be joining Complexions Contemporary Ballet as an apprentice for the company's 2021–22 season.

Dance Spirit caught up with Burse to hear all about her first season with Complexions ahead of the contemporary ballet company's run at the Joyce Theater in NYC this month.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search