Talia Favia performing her own choreography (Focus Lexi, courtesy Favia)

An Inside Look at Talia Favia's Choreographic Process

Talia Favia has had the kind of career contemporary choreographers dream of: She has worked on several competitions and conventions. She choreographs videos that regularly garner hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. She creates standout contemporary pieces for "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Dancing with the Stars." She has her own LA-based contemporary dance company, The Difference Between. And Favia isn't slowing down—if anything she's speeding up, choreographing more works and deepening her own creativity. Follow her on Instagram, @taliafavia, to see where and when her works will next be performed. —Cadence Neenan


Favia rehearsing her work (Focus Lexi, courtesy Favia)

"Be patient. We live in a world where everybody wants instant gratification, but I'm a big believer in that if it's supposed to happen, it will. I know it can get defeating, but you just have to keep creating."

"If something you created has resonated with even one person, that's the most inspiring thing as a choreographer—there's nothing more fulfilling or inspiring than that. If my voice can do that for others, that's enough inspiration to keep me going."

"I'm obsessed with Crystal Pite. I can pretty much watch her work or listen to her speak for hours on end."

Favia teaching class (Focus Lexi, courtesy Favia)

"I get nervous every single time I choreograph something. It could be a 40-second combo, it could be a solo, it could be a full piece—I'm just nervous. I have to let my instincts tell me what to do, or else I overthink everything—each move to every lyric, where I want to go, the message I want to say."

"My work tends to be athletic. It involves a lot of strength, though that's never my intention. I'm just doing what comes naturally to me, what comes out of my body. I'm not sitting there and saying 'How can I make this really hard?' There's no thought of trying to make a cool move. It's who I am, what I do."

"My goal in my work is to communicate with people. I want every single human to be able to relate, whether it's my 8-year-old niece or a professional dancer."

(From left) Ezra Sosa, Gino Cosculluela, and Bailey Muñoz performing Amen on "So You Think You Can Dance" (Adam Rose, courtesy Fox)

"I think this past season of 'So You Think You Can Dance' was the first season I was really proud of myself. In past seasons, I've left feeling like I could have done better. But this season, I got to do 'Amen,' which I've been trying to get on the show for two years. I first submitted it as a duet, but Mandy Moore suggested that I think about it as a group piece. I left that meeting thinking, 'No, I don't think it could be a group, no way.' But then all of a sudden, this season, when they told me I had the three boys, everything in my body suddenly knew it should be 'Amen.'

"It truly does take an army. It's not just the work—it's the dancers, it's the lighting, it's the producers, it's the assistants, it's everything. When all of those things finally come together, you just feel this insane amount of gratitude."

"You don't need the best dancers in the entire world, you don't have to hire the 'right' person. The room you create your work in is a really sacred space. It's important to have the right people in it. Trust your instincts."

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Auditions rarely fail to deliver on suspense. But this? This was the nail-biter to end all nail-biters. Hayoung Roh and Chelsea McCloskey, both professional dancers based in NYC, had made it through what felt like endless rounds of cuts, both on Zoom and in person. Out of the nearly 500 dancers (from 30 states and nine countries) who'd answered the Knicks City Dancers' open call for video submissions, just 20 remained—McCloskey and Roh among them. "We were separated into six holding rooms, where we kept trying to figure out the math," Roh recalls. "How many girls are there in total? Who was called back?"

Finally, the women returned to the audition room to dance one last time—or so they were told. Instead, KCD head coach Alyssa Quezada dropped her bombshell: All 20 women had made the final cut. They would be 2021–22 Knicks City Dancers: the latest and greatest edition of one of the most prestigious NBA dance teams. "It was the biggest celebration and the coolest moment of my dance career so far," says McCloskey now. And that was just the oh-so-perfectly-dramatic beginning.

Chelsea McCloskey stands on her left leg while kicking her right leg up with her arms crossed, a smile on her face. She is auditioning for KCD. Chelsea McCloskey Photo by Tess Mayer


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