Health Watch: How Tap Dancers Train For Performance
Have you ever heard of Deadrock, Nevada? You will this weekend when New York glitz meets the wild west in Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company's production of 'Crazy for You.'
Long before costumes, lighting and the orchestra pit is filled, dozens of dancers flap, ball change their way through intense rehearsals.
"These are trained dancers. For years they have been studying tap, jazz and ballet," explains international performer, Gina Davis, who also owns Western Nevada Performing Arts Center in Carson City. "They put in probably 12-15 hours of training a week, on top of all the rehearsals that we do." Right there with her students, Gina taps. "One, two, three and four..." Cuing smiles and heads-up, she not only focuses on stage presence and technique, she is also choreographing their every step.
She has long choreographed for esteemed musical theater director, Stephanie Arrigotti of Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company. Together they have brought beloved stories to life on stage with incredible, local talent. "Fabulous talent," shares Stephanie. "If Gina and I didn't have the talent that could actualize our ideas, we might as well sit and read a book." Gershwin's Tony-winning Broadway musical, 'Crazy for You' is their next feat. "When you're not laughing, you're applauding because the dance numbers are so amazing."
It certainly takes a lot of work to perfect this tap-happy production. Memorizing nearly two-hours of script just might be the easy part. These actors, dancers and singers need healthy lungs and stamina to hit every note and step simultaneously. "Especially our leads; they will run on a treadmill while they're singing their songs."
For Cassia Giustra, who plays spunky Polly Baker, that means practice, practice, sleep, eat and more practice. "She'll teach it to you, you run it a few times and then you have to practice it at home and come back the next day and run it." Cassia spends hours in the studio and focuses on nutritious foods and proper hydration, too. It's rigorous, but Cassia and fellow lead, Shepherd Darquea agree, the reward of being on stage is worth it. "Oh my gosh, the best feeling in the world. Would not trade it for anything... ever," smiles Cassia. Shepherd adds, "I found that I don't get nervous until the curtains open. And then it's a very surreal experience." When all their hard work pays off, 'who could ask for anything more?' Perhaps, Stephanie puts it best. "It is an art that is created not with paint brushes, but with people and that is really an amazing art to be part of."
Catch Western Nevada Musical Theatre Company's production of 'Crazy for You' at the Carson City Community Center on Fridays at Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., May 10th through May 19th. There is also a matinee on Saturday, May 18th at 2 p.m. Some performances are nearly sold out. For best pick of seats, check the evening shows. Tickets: $25/$28, WNMTC.com or 775-445-4249.