First there was “Fame,” then there was “Glee” and now there’s a new you’ll-want-to-sing-and-dance-along show coming to the small screen: “Smash,” from executive producer Steven Spielberg. The show is about a musical composer named Tom (Christian Borle) and a lyricist named Julia (Debra Messing), who are working to get a Marilyn Monroe–themed musical off the ground. Naturally, drama ensues: Should they cast sassy theater veteran Ivy (Megan Hilty) or doe-eyed newcomer Karen (Katharine McPhee) in the leading role?
We don’t know who will snag the spotlight, but we do know that any good Broadway-based show is sure to have plenty of dancing! Josh Bergasse, a musical theater veteran himself, is the show’s choreographer, and he gave us the scoop on what we can expect from “Smash.”
(Hint: “There’s tons of music, tons of dance and tons of drama,” he says.)
Dance Spirit: How did you get involved with the show?
Josh Bergasse: Michael Mayer, the director of the show’s first three episodes, saw my choreography at a benefit I did at New York University. A month later he approached me about working on “Smash.”
The first day of filming was so exciting. I had never been on a shoot that was quite so big! The dancers and I felt really great about the number we were filming, but I was nervous as to how it would read on camera. The footage is gorgeous—everything pops.
DS: How much dancing is in the show?
JB: Each episode has at least one big dance number, and some episodes have more. I have a core group of 10 dancers I use, and I call in more dancers for bigger numbers.
DS: What is the choreography like?
JB: It’s a mix of classic Broadway, contemporary, hip hop and old–Hollywood musical–style numbers. The script calls for all kinds of different things, like routines with Marilyn and the male cast members and routines at a hip and edgy rock show.
DS: The show includes some great actors but many of them aren’t dancers. Are you still making them dance?
JB: Yes, even the non–dance-trained cast members are dancing! They’re handling it beautifully and are having a blast.
DS: What is your advice for DS readers who want to dance on a TV show?
JB: Get an agent. It’s tough to get into some auditions without one. It also helps to be fluent in many different styles of dance. On our show, for example, you never know what style will be needed from one episode to the next.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
We also want you to
get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.
Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
There's a story Kate Walker, director of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, loves to tell about Emma Sutherland, who just graduated from the program. "We were watching the students run a really long, challenging piece," Walker recalls. "Several kids couldn't quite make it through. But Emma did make it all the way to the end, which is when she walked up to us faculty and very politely asked, 'May I please go throw up?' "