SYTYCDC alumni returned to the Top 20 show to choreograph and work as choreographic assistants. They chatted about what it’s like being on the other side…
Season 1’s Natalli Reznik and Francis Lafrenière: Paso doblé choreographers
Natalli: Francis and I wanted to go a little dark and extreme with this routine. It’s a big battle about who is in control. Really, it’s all about passion.
Francis: I’m really proud of this piece. I love the opening, where the man paints on a frame and the woman reacts to it all.
Natalli: The piece is very passionate and we both wanted the dancers to understand the essence of the paso doblé and really embody their characters. It was tough in the beginning because they’re both ballet dancers, so they dance with their energy up, where in the paso, you need to get really grounded.
Francis: It was a challenge for us to figure out how to teach ballet dancers the paso as much as it was a challenge for them to learn it. Mostly, it was the posture that was difficult to master. The hips have to be over the balls of the feet – it’s hard to maintain over the course of a whole routine. You feel off balance the whole time.
Natalli: I loved performing the paso (in Season 1). Dancing with Francis is magical. He’s a very powerful dancer and I think we have the same intensity. He doesn’t scare me, he challenges me and I think I challenge him back.
Francis: You have to dance strong when you dance the paso. Strong and heavy.
Natalli: Even more than the technique and the steps, for me, paso doblé is a feeling. The dance is about struggle. It’s about overcoming and showing your passion.
Season 2’s Danny Lawn: Choreographic assistant for Stacey Tookey’s Top 20 contemporary duet
Danny: It’s so surreal being back here! I’ve missed everyone – the choreographers, the crew, everything about the show!
It’s such a relief being on the other side of things. I was watching the dry run and I could just sit and enjoy all of the dances.
Working with Stacey is totally a dream job. I wanted to work with her so badly on the show last year, but I didn’t. I got cut right before her group number – it was the worst! In rehearsals for the duet, she’d be giving notes and I’d be taking them all in, and then I’d have to remind myself that I wasn’t even going to be performing!
Being on the creative side with her is just so great. She’s so brilliant. The whole creation process is just so wonderful. She’d say things like, “I’m feeling something that moves this way and is circular, with this sort of intent behind it,” and we’d try things and she’d shape it until it was what she wanted. We were really part of the process.
The dancers are in a position that any little bit that can help and make it easier for them (we will try to give them). It feels so good to give back.
Season 2’s Natalie Lyons: Choreographic assistant for Lil’ C’s Top 20 krump duet
Natalie: It was such an honour that Lil’ C asked me to come from L.A. to work with him and so great to be back here, seeing everyone from last year. It’s been a great experience looking at it from a different perspective.
You don’t have to stress as much, which is nice and I just love watching the dancers in rehearsal and helping them out as much as I can. It’s easier to help them knowing how it feels to be in their shoes.