When Curtains opens on Friday, March 12, it will be the show’s premiere in Santa Barbara. Directed by Clark Sayre and Paul Freeman, and featuring an all star cast of Dos Pueblos actors, Curtains is sure to be a great night in the theater. I spoke with Keely Moore about her work on the show last week.
Can you tell me about yourself?
Well, I am seventeen years old, and I have been dancing for about fourteen years. Mostly ballet but also modern, jazz, lyrical, tap, swing, a little bit of ball room, pretty much anything I can get a hold of. I volunteer at the zoo a lot, and I do a program called “zoo gone wild.” I have done that for two summers. I am really interested in choreography, and I’ve been doing it since around second grade.
What is Curtains about?
The show is a comic murder mystery about this detective Frank who finds himself trying to solve this murder that’s going on with Jessica Crenshaw. The leading lady is obviously just terrible and nobody in the cast particularly cares that she was murdered. The whole cast is essentially being blackmailed, and he’s trying to get to the bottom of everything, of why they’re all here…of why they’re all doing the show.
What is it like being the first high school student from DP to choreography a show?
It’s amazing. I mean, it’s not at all what I expected—I expected it to be a lot harder. I expected students to completely disrespect me because I am one of their peers, but everyone has been so great, and they try so hard. Just experimenting and getting the feel of what it’s like working with a full, 24 number ensemble is great. Non-dancers are especially challenged, but it’s been really fun.
How did you get interested in choreography? Is there someone who has influenced you?
Well, I really started choreographing on my own. In ballet we’re always taught to do improv, and I would always listen to the music and improv away. Finally, I started to realize, “wow, I can put things together with music on my own.” And people started to realize that I had a natural talent for choreography. People at my studio started giving me opportunities to choreograph and that’s how I really got started.
What do you draw inspiration from?
At first, I just listen to the music and see what comes to me, but what I really do is I watch as much dancing as I can. Any kind of dance from anywhere. From youtube, lots of movies, anything dance related. And then I take those steps and I either steal them or morph them into what I’m looking for.
How do you visualize or imagine a piece initially?
I do a lot of visualizing in my head. I have my own little language that I use to write it down onto a piece of paper, and then when it comes to actually translating that into people’s movements, I go back and read my notes and try to figure out what I was thinking at the time and from there I take my thoughts and morph them into what the dancers can do, and what there bodies are capable of.
Do you have previous experience as a choreographer or is this your debut?
This really is my first big show. I’ve done little, one-piece numbers in other shows. And I’ve done for our musical theater class just little performances. So I’ve choreographed before, and have done four other dances, but this is a completely different project. Putting on a whole show with a story incorporated in it is unlike anything I’ve ever done.
Do you have anyone helping you?
I don’t really have anyone helping me. I have a ton of people I can turn to if I need to. I’ve got my mom who’s a dancer, and just all my teachers. But I haven’t really needed to turn to them thus far.
Do you want to pursue choreography as a career?
I would love to pursue choreography as a career—anything that get me performing or involved with theater. I certainly don’t think my dancing career is over yet. I want to perform and dance as much as I can, but definitely when I feel that that is over, choreography is definitely a great back up and a really great alternative for me.
I heard you are hoping to attend NYU, why do you want to be there?
NYU’s arts department, Tisch, is opening a new studio specifically for musical theater. And over the summer I did a program that was a tester of the studio, I got college credit. It was just a month of college for me. It’s called New Studio on Broadway.
How do you prepare before a big performance?
It’s all about learning as much as you can. Looking at dances, watching people—exposing yourself to movement so that you can throw something at dancers, to drill them and make sure they know what they’re doing. It all comes down to the fact that it doesn’t matter what they are doing, but how they perform.
Why should people come see Curtains?
Curtains is something no one has ever seen before in Santa Barbara. It is not your typical Broadway musical. It’s more of a tribute. It’s very comical, and I think we’re really taking it in a new direction that DP has never touched on before, especially with the choreography because they’ve never had a student do it before. It will be interesting to see what the cast is capable of.