Mandy Moore: Choreographer to the mountain stars
September 22, 2011
She may spend most of her time a thousand miles away teaching dance routines to stars (and up-and-coming stars) in Los Angeles, but the Summit County-bred choreographer Mandy Moore, daughter of Colorado theater phenoms Bob and Wendy Moore, still finds time to help out her hometown by arranging the routines for the annual hospital fundraiser, Dancing with the Mountain Stars. It’s a generous contribution, especially considering how busy those L.A. producers keep her. Moore works as a choreographer on the hit TV show “So You Think You Can Dance.” In season three, she earned an Emmy nomination for her “Table” routine set to “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics. This year she earned a second Emmy nomination for her work on the show, now in its seventh season. “It was actually a big surprise,” Moore said, explaining that she sent in the work herself – including “Oh Yeah,” a jazz piece set to a Yello song, the contemporary piece “I Surrender” set to Celine Dion, and another jazz piece, “Boogie Shoes,” set to KC & the Sunshine Band – after the show picked other pieces to send in for consideration instead. “I thought they were good pieces,” she said of her entries, “but you never know – one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I was excited that they chose my pieces as Emmy-worthy. It’s voted on by people that are in the business and your peers so when that happens that’s really a nice pat on the back. I was very excited.”There never seems to be dull moment in the Summit High School grad’s career. Two days after completing this year’s tour of “So You Think You Can Dance,” for which she served as supervising choreographer, Moore was off on other adventures, one of which will be the culminating performance of Dancing with the Mountain Stars on October 1. She has choreographed pieces for “American Idol,” “Dancing with the Stars,” and the kids’ movie, “Oogie Loves in the Big Balloon Adventure” and danced professionally in TV shows and movies including “Malcom in the Middle,” “Austin Powers in Goldmember” and, “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” to name a few. Each summer, she spends a week teaching a contemporary master class in Tropea, Italy. When she can find the time, she also teaches a Tuesday/Thursday slot at EDGE Performing Arts Center in West Hollywood.
“Being able to still teach even though I’m working always fills me back up,” Moore said. “I think you give so much when you work on set or TV. It’s nice to go back to my group of students. Everyone wants to just come in and dance. You can create what you feel like creating that day.” “I’ve always felt like I’ve had teaching, dancing and choreography as even things in my life,” added Moore, who attended and taught at Summit School of Dance under then-owner Kim DelGrosso while growing up in Summit County. “She, I think, is the reason why I have a career,” Moore said of DelGrosso. “With Kim I learned how to love dance, and the bottom line is no matter what job I have … I love moving; I love to dance; I love to create. That love has helped me through every scenario I’ve ever experienced,” she said, adding, “I’d still be dancing even if I wasn’t (where I am in my career).” Moore’s own teaching influence is wide-ranging too. “I just did an event with Rosie Fiedelman in New York called ‘Dancebreak,’ Moore said. “I used to teach her at Summit School of Dance when she was 8 years old.”To get her creative juices flowing, Moore likes to “listen to music and daydream a lot” and “get my body moving in space.” She is inspired by the “chance to put a new take on something old.””I think at this point in dance – I’m not going to say everything has already been created, but so much has been done and done well. I find inspiration in putting my twist or tweak on something that’s already been done.” “Dance is the only thing that I’ve found that tests me in all different ways,” Moore added. “I think it’s part of the journey to get to know yourself. Are you ever going to get to the end? No. If you set a goal it’s as much about how you get there as getting there. Dance is that. Dance is how I speak, how I breathe, how I feel. It’s never really final. There is so much to enjoy along that path – and the highs and lows with all of that. There’s a vulnerability with a journey,” she added. “It’s never just one step; it’s many steps, and you have to be open to what you’re going to experience when you take those steps.”
Choreographing one routine can take anywhere from three to 20 hours, but Moore still finds time to return home to Summit County each year to lavish her masterful choreography upon local stars for the St. Anthony Summit Medical Center event, now in its fourth year.”We have eight fantastic dancers and I think the routines are going to be a lot of fun this year,” Moore said. “This group is definitely standing up to how good the rest of the groups have been and I think it’s going to be a great show.” Although she has a beautiful home in the “concrete city” of Los Angeles that she remodeled with her parents’ help, Moore relishes her homecomings, saying, “there’s a bit of exhaling that always happens when I land in Denver.” Last January, she returned for an extended stay to choreograph as well as debut as director of “The Wedding Singer” at the Aurora Fox Arts Center with her sister Missy, who served as assistant director. “I had so much fun doing ‘The Wedding Singer’ with my sister,” Moore said. “As a choreographer you work closely with the director, so it was fun to be one and same. It was also fun to learn more about my sister … to share in her experience.” Is it hard to find the time for so many professional and philanthropic pursuits? “Yes,” Moore replied. “I think sometimes it’s hard to find the time to have a normal life. Then I think: What’s a normal life? This is my life. It’s as normal as it gets.”
See Mandy Moore’s 2011 Emmy-nominated pieces from “So You Think You Can Dance” in this YouTube video by “Sweet Pea”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzysSyJt6O4