by Lance Wiener
The multi-talented Stephanie Klemons is a force of nature. She currently serves as Associate Choreographer/Global Dance Supervisor (as well as an Original Broadway Company member) for the Broadway production of Hamilton and a director/choreographer in Rock of Ages at Pittsburgh CLO.
Klemons explains that she had been involved in the choreography with Hamilton since the early beginnings, working closely with Andy Blankenbuehler, who won the 2016 Tony Award for Hamilton’s choreography. Being the Global Dance Supervisor as well, she oversees the 6 productions of the show around the world in the choreography aspect. This has landed her on the casting side of the table, which is extremely fun yet also tedious.
“It’s exciting to me when we find someone who’s either dance captain material or dance supervisor material and bring them into the world,” she explains. Being able to see another person perform a piece she created so beautifully is something that Klemons takes to heart.
Auditions for Hamilton occur often. The three types that Klemons explains are the open calls, the ECC (Equity Chorus Call, which includes a full portion of “My Shot”), and invited calls. Klemons further adds that should casting want to see a person later on at a callback, she along with the other casting directors and music supervisors will look for options for the specific actor or dancer.
As Hamilton is a very inclusive production, Stephanie adds that they work hard to maintain the looks of how the production has always been cast, and they strive to make sure that they do not cast a group of the same people on one audition day.
Klemons finds it exciting to cast a newly mounted production, stating she looks for the person with the highest energy level and a large room for growth as a performer. With a fresh and new face, a full rehearsal process may just be the thing for them to grow, whereas a replacement performer is either one who has worked with the production already or one that casting feels comfortable with putting through a speedy put-in process.
With a new company, there is also more freedom to switch around ensemble roles and choreography to make it fresh for new audiences and future companies as well. She states, “A new company allows us to shift things.”
What Stephanie looks for in a dance audition is for the performer to be engaged. Yes, they can do a certain move, but they have to deliver with intention and purpose. As she continues, she states, “I’m zero percent interested in seeing you perform the choreography well if your intentions are fake.” Being able to stay true to oneself during the audition is vital to performing well.
Now, the Hamilton bootcamp is a whole other story: it’s a paid bootcamp where one is taught a multitude of numbers from the show. This is used as either a way for the casting team to make sure they are ready to say yes to a person and cast them, or it is used as a means to have a better look at a performer. Bootcamps occur at least twice a year.
Being the associate choreographer for Hamilton has paved the way for Klemons’ choreography career. From working on a Super Bowl commercial to being a lead choreographer/director for regional productions, she has earned her way to the top of the dance world.
“I wish people knew that it wasn’t about being good; it’s about being right for the job.” She continues to say that it’s alright. There are plenty of other productions that one may be right for. There’s always a door waiting to be opened.