Yes, there are a lot of “Dancing With the Stars” fans missing popular pro Derek Hough this season. However, “He’s off to Canada to film a movie, ‘Cobu 3D.’ He’s starring. He’s dancing and acting,” notes Julie McDonald of the dance romance in which Hough’s leading lady is Asian star BoA. “He wants to do other things, and this is a wonderful opportunity for him.”
Hough is among the elite group of dance talents represented by McDonald’s MSA agency — so she knows. The former dancer (whose own career was cut short by injury) has more than 20 years’ experience in working with dancers, stage director and choreographers, including “So You Think You Can Dance” choreography faves Napoleon and Tabitha Dumo. Tabitha and Napoleon happen to be choreographing “Cobu,” in addition to assignments like Fox’s “Mobbed” and “The Kids Choice Awards,” plus the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, “Chipwrecked.”
“People’s careers are extending longer and longer in dance,” McDonald observes, “but those who want to have even longer careers have to expand. Some go into choreography, some into acting. Then you see a lot of choreographers going into producing and directing, like Kenny Ortega, Adam Shankman and Rob Marshall.”
McDonald adds that today, with mass exposure including social networking making dance stars into household names, there are even more opportunities for branching out. “Dancers are often trendsetters. A lot of them are into fashion and design. Tabitha has a store,” she notes.
The explosion of dance and musical show popularity in recent years has made things both easier and more difficult for McDonald, a pioneer in exclusively representing terpsichorean types. The business, she notes, has become much more complicated — and crowded. “There are a lot more people out there calling themselves choreographers.”
Still, there’s obviously demand for the cream of the corps. In a sampling of McDonald’s clients, Swany (Mark Swanhart) is the choreographer for Celine Dion’s new Vegas show and Gilles Papain is their video designer. Sonya Tayeh is directing and choreographing Miley Cyrus’s new tour. Marguerite Derricks is choreographing Broadway’s Wonderland, and Jamie King is directing the forthcoming Michael Jackson Cirque du Soliel show with Travis Payne choreographing. That show is so huge, in fact, McDonald says that multiple choreographers are contributing their talents.
There’s also Steven Spielberg’s new pilot, “Smash,” starring Debra Messing and Katharine McPhee as part of a troupe getting ready to mount a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe, with MSA client Josh Bergasse serving as choreographer.