So You Think You Can Dance


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The Pod De Deux Podcast team is back with a not-to-be-missed season finale episode in the “Women Of Broadway” summer series. This week, Emmy nominee Sonya Tayeh joins Michael, Ellyn, and Kevin to discuss what it was like to choreograph, not one, but two musicals slated for Broadway this past season. Tayeh not only choreographed Moulin Rouge!, which opened late in the summer of 2019, but was also set to choreograph the New York Theatre Workshop’s production of Sing Street when the musical made its transfer to Broadway this spring. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, Sing Street had to halt production before it had a chance to be seen by Broadway audiences. 

In this episode, Tayeh talks about how her choreographic vision for both shows was born from the heart and soul of the stories themselves and how that process created a rigorous work for the dancers of Moulin Rouge!. She also lets us in on her early days dancing in Detroit’s underground rave scene, her incredible self-made trajectory into a choreography career, and the way her world changed when she booked a choreographic job on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. We are even treated to an emotionally vulnerable look behind the scenes into the days leading up to Fox’s early 2019 production of Rent Live! 

Sonya Tayeh is a New York City based choreographer and director. Her work has been characterized as a blend of powerful versatility and theatrical range. Tayeh made her Broadway choreographic debut last summer when Moulin Rouge! opened at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. Tayeh has also choreographed pieces for the Fall For Dance Festival at City Center, The Lucky Ones at Ars Nova, Kung Fu at the Signature, and many other projects for companies and venues like The Music Center in LA, New York Live Arts, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Martha Graham Dance Company, and The Joyce Theatre. She has directed and choreographed for world renowned music artists including Miley Cyrus, Florence and the Machine, and Kyle Minogue. Tayeh choreographed Fox’s Rent Live! in 2019 and has gleaned many accolades for her versatile work, including two Emmy nominations for her work on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance, an Obie Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, two Lucille Lortel Awards for “Outstanding Choreography”, a Drama Desk nomination and a 2020 Drama Desk Award win for Moulin Rouge!

In this series, veteran Pod De Deux host Michael Mahany (Rock Of Ages, Wicked) was joined by fellow performers Ellyn Marie Marsh (The Rose Tattoo, Kinky Boots) and Kevin Michael Raponey (Rock Of Ages, Radio City). The trio sought to speak with all nine of the female choreographers who were slated to bring musicals to Broadway in this unprecedented season. Read more about the unprecedented year for female choreographers in Michael Mahany’s blog post, “Broadway’s Remarkable Year For Women On Broadway.”


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In this episode of Pod De Deux, Michael Mahany speaks with Lady Gaga’s Visual Director and Choreographer, Richy Jackson! (Scroll down for extended video cut!)

Jackson, who grew up in the California Bay Area, tells us all about how he came to find dance, the fateful day when he left Tuskegee University as a pre-law student to move to LA and become a full-time dancer, and dishes on creating, casting, and shooting his most recent collaboration with Gaga — her latest music video, “Stupid Love“! Find Richy on Insta and Twitter @richysquirrel !

Richy Jackson is a world-class Visual Director and Choreographer who has spent the breadth of his 16-year career working in counts of eight alongside the most influential recording artists in the music industry. He is responsible for the widely acclaimed Lady Gaga Super Bowl Halftime Show and a master at inventing her signature dance style. He has served as Lady Gaga’s Visual Director/Choreographer for most of her career, creating the majority of her music videos, live performances, and television appearances. Jackson has also worked with Katy Perry, Keri Hilson, Nicki Minaj, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and Brandy, to name a few.

In addition to being one of the most sought-after choreographers in the business, Jackson displays superlative talent in stage direction, camera-blocking, and direction in narrative/character development. He has put his directional creativity into performances for some of the most recognized shows on television both domestically and abroad, including American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, Saturday Night Live, The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show With David Letterman, The Academy Awards, The Grammy Awards, the MTV Music Awards, the American Music Awards, the Billboard Awards, the BET Awards, and countless others.

While Jackson has spent thousands of hours developing and perfecting his craft in the rehearsal room, he is also an established television personality – appearing on-camera during multiple seasons of the wildly popular MTV franchise “Making The Band”. In 2011, Jackson was featured as a series regular on two hit shows: “The Dance Scene” (E! Entertainment) and “Born to Dance” (Black Entertainment Television).

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