How Mandy Moore Taught Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling to Dance for La La Land

It's funny to hear the New York Times describe choreographer Mandy Moore as "not a household name"—because, in our dance universe, she's basically THE household name. But that's why we're excited the Times just put out a great profile of Moore, talking about her work on the drop-dead gorgeous song-and-dance film La La Land. If a major newspaper is talking about her, hey, she's one step closer to mainstream fame, which she richly deserves.

What makes the Times story especially fun? We get to hear more about how, exactly, she taught stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling to dance. Well, OK—she wasn't starting from square one, given Stone's star turn in the jazzy Cabaret on Broadway and the video evidence we have of baby Gosling's insanely adorable dance moves. But Moore had to bring out their Fred and Ginger side, a kind of graceful naturalism. That involved training them in the fundamentals of tap, ballroom and jazz. “I tried to instill a general love of learning how to dance in them, because I thought that that was going to go a lot further than just teaching them steps," Moore told the Times.

Other tasty nuggets: She played Frank Sinatra for Gosling's training sessions, and Haim for Stone's (lord, could Emma GET any cooler?). Moore's choreo inspirations for various scenes included "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story and "Rich Man's Frug" from Sweet Charity. Moore herself trained in belly dancing growing up, which is amazing.

It's the perfect read to get you through this pre-holiday hump day. And once you're done, go ahead and watch the La La Land behind-the-scenes featurette again, because you know you want to:

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Since you're missing out on so much, we'd like to give you a virtual ovation, to recognize all you've accomplished. And what's the highest honor we can bestow? The cover of Dance Spirit!

Here's the plan:

  • If you're a high school or college senior dancer, use this form to submit your information and dance portrait.
  • Each day during the month of May, we'll create a digital Dance Spirit cover starring one of you, chosen at random—31 covers in total.
  • At the end of the month, we'll create a "commencement video" featuring even more of your submitted dance photos.
  • 100 of you, selected by lottery, will also receive free one-year subscriptions to the print magazine.

Merde, 2020 graduates, as you dance your way into the future!

High School and College Senior Dancers: Submit Your Photo Here

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