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Choreography Reimagined

To make The Nutcracker as an original film, the holiday favorite was transformed. Characters have been adjusted, scenes cut, & a new score was recorded. Dance faculty choreographer, Ilya Kozadayev, shares his creative process in reimagining the iconic choreography while keeping everyone involved safe during this momentous production.

AIRED: December 22, 2020 | 0:03:41
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(cheerful orchestral music)

- A lot of the movement itself, a lot of the arm movement,

a lot of the angles that we're taking

would particularly only work

in a film version of this production.

It's definitely been tailored to film.

(cheerful orchestral music)

My name is Ilya Kozadayev.

I'm the assistant professor of ballet

at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts

and I'm the choreographer for "Nutcracker" this year.

We're doing a collaboration, a collaborative production

between the School of Dance, the School of Music,

School of Design and Production,

as well as the School of Film.

So this is the first time that we're doing a movie version,

if you will.

It's a much shorter version,

so it's been condensed from a two hour production

to a 30 minute production.

So that required really sitting down

and thinking through what scenes need to be shortened,

what scenes need to be completely omitted

and how we can create a through line

and not lose the essence of the production,

not lose the essence of the story...

but wanted to try to keep it

as quote-unquote traditional as possible,

but having it all very much condensed.

I've done some choreography for film

but it's been in a much smaller capacity.

I really had to consider what shots and what takes

and what angles we're actually taking,

and creating choreography around that

has been challenging for me.

It's been a challenge.

You know, with the way the world is now

and with the restrictions we have,

it's a big challenge choreographically

to create something this large with this many dancers.

The challenge is really to keep everybody safe.

And the challenge is to keep everybody separated enough,

yet maintain a level of choreography

in traditional classical language, and that is difficult.

- He makes sure everything is just right.

He's specific, but he's also kind.

He makes sure you're okay,

especially with masks and social distancing.

He wants to make sure everyone's safe and comfortable.

So it's been an amazing experience.

I've enjoyed working with a different mindset, I think.

Rather than just going in thinking

it's a rehearsal for a piece,

it's more going in rehearsing and evolving as a character

while combining that with my dancing

because it is more important this year to make sure

that I am able to get the storyline across.

All of my teachers always tell me to be Clara first

and then a dancer.

So just being human, being myself, really helps.

As dancers, we train to emote our reactions

to an audience far way.

So I guess this year when putting a camera

up close to your face,

it's different to make the reaction more genuine.

- I'm excited about the fact that our students

are getting to have "The Nutcracker" experience,

even in these difficult times where, you know,

live performance is really, really difficult.

We're in a unique place on this campus

to have the opportunity to collaborate

with so many amazing artists here,

and to be able to pull this off and put this together

in such a difficult and strange time for everybody.

I'm hoping that the impact is gonna be big for UNCSA.

I'm hoping that this is gonna reach a lot of eyes.

I'm excited about it.

I wanna see what it finally looks like.

I want the movie to stop playing in my head

and I wanna actually be able to see what we have.

(cheerful orchestral music)

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