"Two, three, four, run, six, seven, eight!"
In the opening scene of Netflix's documentary Dance dreams: hot chocolate nutcrackerLegendary choreographer Debbie Allen claps and counts loudly as her young students run across a stage during a crucial exercise. The 70-year-old dance teacher is preparing to present her annual production of Hot chocolate nutcracker – a twist in the classic holiday story The Nutcracker – and she expects nothing less than perfection.
"The most important part in creating the production is the level of student achievement each year. Student growth is everything."
The film, which was released on November 27th, records Allen's guidance from audition to opening night, and captures the rigorous training that students at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy (DADA) undergo before the big show. It also examines Allen's famous career and impact on the dance industry as well as the personal aspirations of her trainees. However, Allen and her DADA team did not deliberately set out to realize the project, which was filmed over a period of two years. Thanks to cameraman Oliver Bokelberg, everything just came together.
"Oliver Bokelberg's daughter is one of my best students, and Oliver wanted to take pictures of her and capture everything," Allen told POPSUGAR. "He started shooting and I told him," OK, just stay out of my way. "And he did, and then two years later he had all of this footage. It was a real one Kino-Vérité, where you get a snapshot of something on the wall as if nobody knows the camera is there. "
After the documentary was almost finished, producer Shonda Rhimes, who works with Allen, worked Grey's Anatomy, looked at a rough cut and knew she wanted it under the Shondaland banner. "She says, 'I'll shake this up and make it what it has to be,'" said Allen. "My working relationship with her was straightforward. I gave it to her, let her take it where she wanted it, and it airs. She brought out a lot of truths that were right there in the world." Footage and in our real life. At the end she said, "I want you to see it and make sure you like it." Of course I loved it and was humble about it. I just loved the way she put it all together. "
The film gives viewers a detailed glimpse into Allen's creative finesse and the hard love she shows for her students. According to the dance instructor, it's all about the young artists bringing the show to life with captivating ballet numbers, hip-hop routines, and contemporary pieces. "The most important part in creating the production is the level of student performance each year," said Allen. "Student growth is everything. Their pride in what they do and how they belong Hot chocolate nutcracker is everything."
“My mother, Vivian Ayers, calls herself the 'poet of the space age'. Because of her vision, creativity and understanding of the spirit, she has always raised me to be part of the universe – not a block, a city or a state, but the universe. "
It's no surprise that Allen's focus on shaping and developing her recruits is the driving force behind her work. After all, DADA was founded on the principles of inclusivity and encouragement. When Allen's daughter Vivian was a young adult, she began dancing at the Kirov Academy of Ballet. But the environment for a black dancer turned out to be harmful. During Vivian's third year, a teacher told her that she would never become a dancer and instead attend Ailey School – the dance company founded by groundbreaking black choreographer Alvin Ailey. Allen immediately recognized the Kirov teacher's nudge as racism, as if Ailey's school was automatically subordinate because it teaches mostly black students.
Too good to know that racism is rampant in the dance business Christmas in the square The director founded her own company in 2001. "I'm the kind of person who does that. I don't talk, I do," Allen said. "When it happened, it started everything. It took me a few months to find the right place. We started in Culver City, and then it was another six to eight months before my husband, Norman Nixon, got us charitable status When we had our first fundraiser, we were not for profit and I hired the best teachers in the world. ”Their academy, which is a 501 (c) 3 not for profit, accepts students based on audition after they fill out an application . Their socio-economic circumstances and their ability to pay for classes do not affect their acceptance.
Allen believes that starting her company was written in the stars. "I was ready to do it," she said. "I ran a dance initiative in Dallas, TX for a couple of years over the summer. I ran one privately in my home with about 12 students. Because of this, I was asked to teach at dance schools around the world Fame. I always taught dance when I choreographed. It was a natural, very honest thing for me, and Vivian was the motivation to make it happen. "
"My students are everywhere and their humanity will make the world a better place."
The emphasis on acting through words and unlocking limitless power is based on Allen's belief that she is a "child of the universe" – a concept she was taught at a young age. "My mother, Vivian Ayers, calls herself the 'poet of the space age'," said Allen. "Because of her vision, creativity and understanding of the spirit, she has always raised me to be part of the universe – not a block, a city or a state, but the universe." The thought encouraged everyone to excel in their talents and accept their fate. "My mother always demanded that we find our ways and stay in the game. She instilled this into me, my sister Phylicia Rashad, my brother Tex and even my little brother Hughey," added Allen.
Everyone has certainly taken the idea of taking a widespread influence to heart. Because of her dance academy, students whom she has made masterful performers have appeared in countless productions around the world. Allen describes their global reach through their mentees as DADA Diaspora. "They've done Broadway, film, and television, and started their own nonprofits and are training to be the next choreographer," Allen said. "My students are everywhere and their humanity will make the world a better place." She went on to list some of the projects her apprentices participated in, including a production of Ma Rainey's black bottom, the series Young Sheldonand Broadway productions like Hamilton, The prom, The Lion King, and Evil.
"When you're an art student, you look at the world through a different lens. You find yourself and that will translate into something beautiful."
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the performing arts have stalled in their traditional settings for several months. However, everyone hopes that the dancers hope for a better future. "I believe this war on COVID will win," she said. "And everyone will be back in the studio." Allen is currently teaching virtual classes on Instagram, bringing the gift of dance to an even wider audience.
"Dance theater is something that will enrich your life and make the world a better place as you grow into it," she mused. "Performing arts education is valuable. It gives you a sense of your creativity, your voice, your ability to lead and work in groups, and your ability to make the world a better place. If you are an art student You look at the world through a different lens. You find yourself, and that will translate into something beautiful. "
Fortunately we have Dance dreams: hot chocolate nutcracker to help us through this time of uncertainty. "It's always had tremendous value, but I think it's going to get more attention right now – attention it deserves," said Allen, speaking of the film's usefulness in a challenging social climate. "I think it's being adopted all over the world. We are in a war that everyone on the planet is involved in – our fight against COVID, the general outcry for the end of horrors in our criminal justice system. The world is rising as a voice, that's why I think that's why (Dance dreams: hot chocolate nutcracker) will resonate even more. "
Allen plans to shoot her stage production FREEZE FRAME . . . Stop the madness into a music film. "This is my response to gun violence in America and the disenfranchisement of our black and Latin American youth in the inner city," Allen said. "It is a wonderful, balanced presentation that would generate a lot of thought in any church."