Mandy Moore, So You Think You Can Dance Choreographer, Artist in Residence at Pace Performing Arts Commercial Dance Program

“I don’t want to see this,” said Mandy Moore, the Emmy-nominated choreographer from the hit show So You Think You Can Dance, to a group of Pace Performing Arts Commercial Dance students as she swung her arms like a lumberjack wielding an axe. “No wood chopping.”

Such corrections are par for the course for the dancers lucky to study with the acclaimed choreographer.  Of the approximately 80 students who auditioned, only nine dancers were selected to perform Ms. Moore’s piece, Dance in a Straight Line, at the Pace Dance Out Loud event coming up in April.

For five days, from February 18 – 22, Ms. Moore conducted auditions and then rehearsed the selected dancers, all women. “For me, it’s really important that I connect to you. It isn’t necessarily that you’ve got the longest legs or the best pirouettes,” said Ms. Moore on her view of the audition and selection process. “I asked them to do their take on a combination and these nine ladies really stuck out to me.”

“I called my mom immediately after I got it, and was like, ‘Mom, I get to work with Mandy Moore!’ It’s a huge deal,” said Cleo Sykes, a junior in the Commercial Dance program. “This is the first time I’ve been selected for first cast for a guest artist, so it’s super exciting. To have Mandy correct me and for her to know the way I dance is exciting.”

Preparing for a show is demanding and rehearsals typically follow a full day of classes. Ashtain Rothchild, a senior in Commercial Dance, explained, “We’ve been in rehearsals with her every night since the auditions. Sometimes we’ll go from 5 to 8pm, and sometimes until 9pm. Each night is different depending upon how we want to progress the number. It’s been a lot of hard work and it’s been amazing.”

On top of doing six seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, Ms. Moore keeps busy in her spare time teaching and choreographing for film, concerts and music videos. Recently, she choreographed a sequence for actors Bradley Cooper (Actors Studio ‘00) and Jennifer Lawrence in the Oscar-nominated film Silver Linings Playbook.

>> Take 5 with Dyson News: Mandy Moore

Mandy Moore’s residency was made possible through the generous support of Voice of an Angel Foundation. This gift supports commercial dance and entertainment industry workshops for Pace Performing Arts students. This gift will be used to attract prominent directors and choreographers to engage with Pace dance students to study, create, perform, and lay the foundation for a professional network.