Karla Puno Garcia on Choreographing an Uncommon Tony Awards

This 12 months’s Tony Awards had been practically cancelled. There was a second when it appeared like Broadway’s massive night time is likely to be collateral injury within the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike. However a compromise was reached: The union wouldn’t picket the occasion so long as it wasn’t scripted.

Although that may sound a little bit dangerous, it additionally supplied a possibility, within the phrases of choreographer Karla Puno Garcia, “to raise dance in a very massive method.” Garcia isn’t new to the Tonys; she was an affiliate choreographer and dancer for Sergio Trujillo’s opening quantity in 2021, and has carried out within the present with the solid of Gigi and Hamilton. Now, as a choreographer, she will get to assist create the imaginative and prescient for a broadcast wherein dance will certainly be taking up some main-character vitality.

Though she couldn’t share particulars on precisely what that can seem like (“You’ll simply must tune in!” she says), Garcia was in a position to provide the news on how the chance got here collectively, and what it was wish to workforce up with triple-threat host Ariana DeBose.

Garcia at a Tony Awards rehearsal. Picture by Morgan Marcell, Courtesy Garcia.

How did you discover out that you simply’d be choreographing this 12 months’s Tonys?
Ariana DeBose referred to as me and requested if I used to be and accessible. I stated sure and sure! [Laughs]

That was just a few weeks in the past. I used to be in tech rehearsal for Days of Wine and Roses on the Atlantic Theater when she referred to as. (I’m co-choreographer with Sergio Trujillo.) That simply opened Monday night time. I additionally simply began a brand new immersive present referred to as Tipsy Whispers on Monday. So I’m not sleeping, however I’m so grateful, and my thoughts has simply been creating content material like wild.

What’s your historical past with Ariana? Did your time in Hamilton overlap?
Very briefly. She was on her method out whereas I used to be nonetheless studying the present. However that was one in all many crossovers we’ve had. We’ve been within the trenches with one another as dancers, as performers, making an attempt to e-book our slots in Broadway exhibits. We’ve carried out in gigs collectively. And she or he has all the time been a supporter of my choreography. So we’ve a mutual respect for one another, and it was actually cool to see a peer—now turned Oscar winner!—acknowledged in such an enormous method. She is a power!

Why do you assume she selected you?
I believe our tastes align. We each love musicality. We love dynamics and spicy issues up in the same method. Ari is an unimaginable dancer, a tremendous showman, and, on high of that, she’s actually funky. We each like type of bringing the outdated and the brand new collectively, a basic vibe with a contemporary twist.

Is dance taking up a extra outstanding function this 12 months as a result of the present is unscripted?
I believe in our trade, it’s straightforward to miss a dance ensemble or simply the ingredient of dance. And this 12 months, it’s actually cool to convey gentle upon dancing in an enormous method due to the circumstances. The opening quantity is simply an enormous celebration of dance. And, with out giving an excessive amount of away, I did get to choreograph one other second later within the present. And that’s all I’ll say. [Laughs]

Why do you assume dancers usually get ignored?
We inform tales by our our bodies, and there aren’t any phrases. Our our bodies are the phrases. However I believe we’re at some extent after we’re gonna begin to see an enormous wave of telling tales by dance, particularly onstage. There’s a brand new technology of choreographers and creatives and administrators which have completely different views, and I believe this various group goes to combine it up.

What does it imply for you to have the ability to work on one thing that reaches so many individuals?
I bear in mind watching the Tony Awards with my household after I was 9 years outdated—seeing Broadway exhibits on my TV—and getting excited to not solely watch them reside however, ultimately, hopefully get to be in them. To be part of creating the imaginative and prescient that does that’s super-super-special.

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