By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
It is a pleasure to welcome to Jake’s Take: Shaping Sound co-creator Teddy Forance!
He has had the opportunity to work with some of the greatest recording artists of all-time including Madonna, Janet Jackson, Kylie Minogue, Usher, and Lady Gaga. Teddy also performed on numerous award shows such as the American Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, and the Oscars. Also, he also performed in the cast of both Cirque Du Soleil and Step-Up Revolution. When Teddy is not dancing, he is a frequent choreographer at the Jump Dance Convention and serves on both the creative and choreography teams of CLI Studios.
Five years ago, Teddy joined forces with his best friends: Nick Lazzarini, Kyle Robinson, and Emmy-winning choreographer Travis Wall to form the Shaping Sound Dance Company. The four co-founders energized the dance world with their 2012 Oxygen Series, All the Right Moves and their dynamic performances on both Dancing with the Stars and Ellen.
After a highly successful inaugural North American tour, Teddy will join Nick, Travis, and a new generation of dancers on the road as Shaping Sound presents their latest show: After the Curtain.
In this edition of A Conversation, Teddy opened up about Shaping Sound ‘s growth and teased audiences on what they can expect from After the Curtain.
Jacob Elyachar: Five years ago, I had the opportunity to interview you, Nick, Travis, and Kyle when Oxygen aired the All the Right Moves docu-series. How has Shaping Sound grown as a company since our first interview?
Teddy Forance: Wow! That feels like so many years ago, and a lot has happened since that interview. We finished our 100th show on March 5, and it has been an incredible experience to go through the creation process again for our second production. From learning about what goes on during the production end to creating the choreography and picking out the music, there is so much to learn in the creation process. Luckily, we have inspiration behind every member of our company. From the dancers who have been with us from the beginning to the people who have come in and out of the company, Shaping Sound has become a family. We are all brothers and sisters on tour and getting to do what we love every single night is such a blessing.
JE: One of Shaping Sound’s biggest supporters is Ellen DeGeneres. The company has performed on her Emmy-winning talk show several times. How have Shaping Sound’s Ellen appearances helped you reach a new audience?
TF: Shaping Sound is always excited to go on Ellen before we head out on tour. Our ticket sales have boosted so much because of those performances. We are so grateful for every time she asks us back. Ellen loves to dance so much and supports Shaping Sound. Every time we go on the show, the Ellen team lets us create something new whether it is incorporating the backstage area that leads to the soundstage, performing “Bohemian Rhapsody” or doing a piece from our latest show. It is such an honor to be able to create art on TV like that for millions of people.
JE: Shaping Sound is back on the road touring with a new show: After the Curtain. Could you describe the show to my readers?
TF: After the Curtain follows a writer-director named Vincent, who is played by Travis. Vincent has this tangled web of relationships with the cast. This production is a show within a show, and the audience gets to see what goes inside of his brain of creating. It is like the movie, Birdman, which focuses on what happens when his alter ego comes out of him. Vincent and his alter ego, played by Lex Ishimoto, perform this unbelievable duet that will have the audience ask: “How is that physically possible?” Also, all of us have individual character names, and the show is similar to a Broadway play. The show has a lot of intensity, compelling moments, and a full cinema-style performance. We also advise you to bring your tissues because it is going to be an emotional roller coaster ride.
JE: What were some of the biggest lessons that Shaping Sound learned from your previous tours that you implemented into After the Curtain?
TF: One element that we emphasized a lot during After the Curtain’s creation process is “story first, movement second.” Travis came up with this madly imaginative story that is set in the 1920s and involved all of us jumping into these characters. All these different elements bring the entire spectrum of the story together, and because we are still in the early stages of the tour, we are still trying to get to know our characters. In our last show, we had a strong storyline, but After the Curtain is just as deep but more powerful for us as dancers to get into and the audience as well.
JE: What were some of the challenges that you faced building the choreography for After the Curtain? How did you overcome them?
TF: Travis will be doing some aerial flying pieces, so we had to learn how to incorporate theatrical rigging into the show. We learned how much time it took our crew to set up the equipment. One of our favorite artists, Ryan Lott, wrote a lot of the music for the show. Whether it is from his albums or pieces that he exclusively created for us, it was a good challenge to make sure that he handed all his music to us before the final rehearsals. Shaping Sound is so lucky to have his music because Ryan’s talent is awe-inspiring. Each show brings its challenges with time because everyone has busy schedules, but the show came together beautifully, and we are very excited to perform it.
JE: You have watched an entire generation of dancers grow up in front of your eyes. In your humble opinion, do you think that you found future Shaping Sound members throughout your travels?
TF: Absolutely! We found both (Shaping Sound alumni and current Cats cast members) Ricky Ubeda and Daniel Gaymon through our travels. All of us come from the same world. Travis, Nick, Kyle, and I were just like them when we were younger. They are our closest students as we saw them on a consist yearly basis. The level of talent keeps on growing exponentially and continues to get better. Plus, the standard of training and the number of classes that are available for dance students is incredible. It is also inspiring to see the communication between students and teachers blossom whether in the classroom or on social media.
JE: Speaking of social media. How has social media expanded Shaping Sound’s audience?
TF: We sell most of our tickets through social media, and it has been one of the best marketing tools for us. Social media has also helped us connect with our fans by getting to know them on a much more personal basis. We also use social media as a sounding board regarding what parts of the show they liked, and it has taken our networking to the next level. One of our producers, Nikole Vallins, has been incredible working with us and has been a huge factor in our social media success. We feel so grateful that people are interested in what we are doing.
JE: Why should my readers check out After The Curtain?
TF: After The Curtain is an exciting and intense show! You are going to cry and laugh. There are some hot and sexy moments as well. It is going to take audiences to another era, and it is going to make them feel something. We want to make audiences feel like they are watching a movie and give them a sense of depth to yourself and life as well. It is a roller coaster ride that you do not want to miss.
For more information about Shaping Sound and their tour, visit their website!