Excited about Disney on Ice Live in Doha next week - we are!!
Cindy Stuart is the Choreographer behind the show - here's what she had to say...
Q: What was your vision for the choreography in Disney On Ice presents Rockin’ Ever After?
A: I try to bring a variety of movement, style, and music, to every show that I work on. In Rockin’ Ever After, we feature four Disney tales. Overall, the choreography for this show is high energy, entertaining, and fun for the skaters to perform. When the skaters are having fun, the audience has more fun. The opening number is to a song called “Let it Go” and it’s a Disney Channel playlist song, so I think that’s going to appeal to the audience a lot. It’s a pop song, so it brought out a theme of music video-type choreography, which was really fun.
Q: When you are preparing a new show, do you watch all of the movies again? How do you prepare?
A: To prepare for the choreography on the ice, we always go back and we look at the movie again. We often will visualize the characters in new ways, trying to think of how we can make the costumes different, fresh and new to reflect the character’s personality more clearly.
Q: How do you bring the different characters and scenery into one cohesive show, when you go from under the sea to the Scottish Highlands?
A: The Scottish Highlands was particularly fun because of the music. I do a lot of research in my choreography to make sure that it’s legit, so I researched Scottish Highland dancing. Then, for instance in “Under the Sea,” we went back and we looked at the film, and decided on costume design that would work with so many colors and different little species of fish, again to create different styles of movement.
Q: You have the same skaters in both of those numbers, what do you say to those performers on how to make each character they skate different from the next?
A: We tell the skaters before we choreograph each production number the basic story behind the scene, who they are in this scene, what their personality is, and what they represent. So in working with the skaters in both the Scottish highlands number, or “Under the Sea,” or “Be Our Guest,” we give them different personalities in each scene. They might be a napkin in “Be Our Guest,” and that has a very flowy dress, so it requires a certain style of movement. “Under the Sea” requires a different style of movement because they’re fish, and they’re moving under the sea. We create all of that in pre-production, so it’s in place by the time we teach the skaters the choreography.
Q: How do you decide how each character is going to come to life on the ice?
A: We watch the films! Each character comes to life in the animation and the film producers and directors have designed them specifically to have personalities. Then we try to bring it to life by watching how they move. For instance, Merida is so glorious riding on that horseback, with the dress and her hair flowing, there’s so much speed in her character, so that is something we can easily bring to the ice.
Q: Do you have a favorite moment, or number you choreographed?
A: Well, Merida being so different from the other princesses is one of my new favorites. She’s got this wonderful song in the film, and it is when she’s on the horseback. It’s sung by Julie Fallas, and it’s called “Touch the Sky.” It’s so special to me because it’s in a waltz kind of pattern and it just translated so beautifully to the ice that I kind of got emotional when I was working on it.
Q: How did you develop Merida for the ice since she’s a new character and she may be new to audiences?
A: Yes, this is the first time that audiences will see Merida on the ice, and in developing her she’s got a very strong personality so her movement is strong, not quite aggressive, but she’s very vehement when she’s arguing with her mother or when she’s trying to break free of the traditions her family is trying to force on her.
Q: What did Patty Vincent [Director] bring back from her research in Scotland that helped you with your choreography in this show?
A: It’s a very specific detail, but in a highland jig they use the same arm and the same leg in their dance. Usually for us, for instance, your left leg would be up and the right arm would be up, or vice versa. So it took a little getting used to using the same arm and the same leg and I really appreciated that detail because I like to be legitimate in my choreography.
Q: Talk to me about Brave, and the choreography of that segment of the show.
A: In presenting Brave through Disney On Ice, we narrowed it down to Merida and the suitors. The clansmen arrive, the first born of each clan are vying for Merida’s hand in marriage, and this of course is very distressing to her. Choreographically, what we wanted to do was have the arrival of the clans doing a Highland Fling as a ceremonial beginning to the competition. What’s so much fun about this story is that it is so high energy. We use music derived from the original soundtrack of the movie, so it’s very fun and will get everyone on their feet trying to do a Scottish jig!
Q: So they’re actually jumping up and down on their skates?
A: They are, they are kind of leaping up and down and doing that bouncing style of movement, but we had to keep that to a minimum because you can really injure your Achilles tendon doing that on skates. I tried to create a movement that would give you the feel of the highland jig, but make it so they were on their toes the whole time, otherwise we would have ended up with a lot of injured skaters.
Q: What is new and fresh about the version of The Little Mermaid in this new show?
A: We approached it differently this time around, because we wanted to keep it fresh and new. We wanted to bring some new elements to telling this classic story. “Under the Sea” is particularly fun, because of the colorful costumes, and we have a black light section in the middle of it that is layered and multi dimensional. We’ve got jelly fish and manta rays, the whole arena becomes an under the sea crazy, calypso party. Visually it’s going to be stunning.
Q: Is that your favorite part of The Little Mermaid section?
A: I think that “Under the Sea” will be a favorite for a lot of kids, because it’s so colorful and big and has such a visual impact. My favorite is when Ariel skates to “A Part of Your World,” she is assisted by what we would call ‘Merfolk’ and she’s literally lifted up and down and undulating in the current of the water, and it’s a kind of innovative new look that we have for her. Then she skates the duet with her partner, Eric to the song “Kiss the Girl.” Eric and Ariel are really spectacular and such a highlight in the show.
Q: One of things I’m looking forward to seeing is the Spanish web routine in The Little Mermaid segment. Tell us why that was created for this show and how that came about.
A: The Spanish web came from an idea that I had when Ariel gets her legs for the first time. We had done this once before when she’s lifted out of a cauldron and she’s attached to the web, and we just thought we should make more of it. We wanted to make an act out of it, to really take advantage of the opportunity we have when she’s up in the air. So we consulted an aerial artist who trained our performer who portrays Ariel. Anna Kamminik designed the routine for us in the air, because she’s an expert in that field.
Q: How difficult is it to get a skater, who’s used to being down on the ice and being firmly planted, to buy into the idea of being in the Spanish web routine?
A: The Spanish web routine took 6 weeks of training for the performer and a few understudies. There is a lot of strength training involved because we as figure skaters are stronger in our lower body, and the flying requires a lot of upper body strength. They had to develop those muscles before they could even learn the routine.
Q: What were your challenges in creating new scenes for Tangled?
A: We did Tangled in our last production of Disney On Ice, and we did it really well, so our challenge was coming up with something new that people had not seen before. A special scene is called “The Kingdom Celebration.” There are these purple flags that are hung from building to building and they make such an impact, that we decided to create a celebration for when Rapunzel returns to the kingdom. We’ve got 20 skaters doing a procession carrying these flags, and in the choreography we implemented color guard skills, which is flag spinning. My assistant and I learned how to spin the flags, and it’s all done in unison. I just thought it would have such an amazing impact, because seeing the flag spinning on football fields is great, but it really is something special on the ice as well.
Q: Beauty and the Beast is such a beloved movie. What is your favorite part in the show?
A: In choreographing Beauty and the Beast, we approached it from a very theatrical point of view. We went Broadway style! I’m really excited about “Be Our Guest,” because when you look at the film and you see that production number, it’s so Busby Berkeley or Ziegfeld Follies. I think that the ice is the perfect place to do a number like that. We re-imagined the costumes—the girls are in the napkins and are just really showgirl elegant, and the gentlemen are flatware, so they’re basically forks and knives. Their style of movement is so different but it flows together nicely. When you add in the castle characters, there are basically four different elements that we’re dealing with in one production number, so it feels huge and layered, which is exciting.
Q: What do you hope that families and kids get out of this show?
A: I hope that families and kids leave with a huge smile on their face. I have loved watching things come together in rehearsals and the show makes me so happy to watch. The energy is amazing, the classic stories that we have in it, Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid, are done with fresh new style. We also have new musical arrangements to go along with our theme of rock and pop music, so I think the audience will walk away with a feeling of freshness and joy.
Q: Describe the show in one word?
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Disney On Ice presents Rockin’ Ever After starts on September 24 – 27 at the Qatar National Convention Centre. Tickets start from QR 175 and are available from all Virgin Megastores or online at www.virginmegastore.qa
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