A day in the life of a choreographer

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Rea Campbell-Hill, 24, is a choreographer for Fusion Theatre - a cross-community theatre group for young people based in Lisburn.

He is currently involved with the groups forthcoming production of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida which takes place February 4 - 7 at Lisburn Island Centre.

When I get the initial call about working on a production I will be asked to meet with the director to discuss the style and vision for the production.

As this is my debut as choreographer with Fusion Theatre Company I needed to familiarise myself with the individual capabilities of the cast. I did this by running a short workshop. The workshop involved a physical warm up and the teaching of a short piece of choreography from a musical before being split into groups to perform the taught piece. This is not only a great opportunity for me to get to know the young people and their skills but also a fun way to allow them to experience my way of teaching.

In my opinion the reason that songs appear in a musical is because the character can no longer express their emotion through speech therefore we move to a heightened stage of emotion in the form of music and dance. Once I have gained a firm understanding of both the musical score and book I can now start to structure and shape each number.

Like any choreographer I choreograph to counts. This becomes a crucial part of the process when I am teaching choreography to the young people as it insures that we are in sync as an ensemble. for “Aida” I spent a lot of time working alone exploring how I can use my own body to portray the themes and emotions in the piece as well as researching the origins of Ancient Egypt and The Middle East to capture their movements correctly.

The young people responded very well to my choreography and contributed with their own ideas based on their character research. It took me about three weeks to teach all routines to the cast and from there we were able to develop further on what we had already done and also make changes on the floor so I could see the movements as I conceptualized them. We have since been rehearsing full runs of the show. Fusion Theatre have a wonderful team of set designers, costumiers and props masters who have made the show look exciting and vibrant. It is a joyous experience to see the musical come together as a whole piece and “Aida” in particular is a stunning piece of musical Theatre.

I wasn’t familiar with the show until I started working with Fusion Theatre but I can safely say it is now one of my favourites. Now all that’s left is to share our hard work with our audiences and I hope everyone enjoys the show as much as we have enjoyed working on it. As princess Amneris tells us in the show “Every story is a love story”.