Aside from dancing in my kitchen and watching every season of So You Think You Can Dance with my mom, I don't have any dance history or training. Now, that ritual has ended, my mom gives me the scoop on how the dancers are doing. When I was asked to do a dance-focused story, I thought my hours of watching would help me. It did not. The dancers make every move look so easy, but I soon learned that this is serious (and sweaty) business.
A couple of weeks into my internship, I made my way to the historic Landers Theatre, which serves as Springfield Little Theatre's home. When I arrived, I found Lorianne Dunn, Springfield Little Theatre's education director and choreographer, rounding up the dancers in the upcoming musical Disney's Newsies. Dunn is the real deal: she's been with the theater for 15 years. She asked if I was a dancer, to which I replied no. She said that I looked like a dancer, and that was good enough for me. Fake it ‘til you make it, right?
The musical is set in turn-of-the-century New York and follows a newsboy named Jack Kelly, who rallies teenaged “newsies” around the city to strike against unfair conditions when the distribution prices are raised. There are more than 60 cast members, with the youngest being just 10 years old.
Leading up to the show, the newsies, who are the die-hard dancers in the musical, rehearse every night Sunday through Thursday. They show up to the theater at 6 p.m., rehearse until 10 or 11 p.m., and perfect new scenes each time.
I hopped on stage with them and the warm up began. Dunn stood in front of me and the dancers, and slowly walked through the steps while using dance terminology that is way over my head. There were roughly 30 dancers on the stage that Tuesday evening—all stretching, warming up and dancing at once.
After the warm-up, I took a break while the cast showed off their skills and performed a fast-paced scene they had already perfected in past rehearsals. Then it was time to learn a brand-new act. I joined them back on the stage that overlooked the theater and tried to follow along as best as I could.