HSM3: Inside the Choreography

October 20, 2008

Last summer I had the ultra-cool job of interviewing actors and dancers from Disney’s High School Musical 3 for the November issue of DS. Well, the November issue is out – you’ll notice it right away with pop-and-lock girl KayCee Stroh on the cover – and HSM3 is almost here.


The movie opens in theaters this Friday, Oct. 24. This week I’ll dish out to you some behind-the-scenes info from the film. Let’s start with a breakdown of the movie’s big dances:

  • “Boys are Back” – Troy (Zac Efron) and Chad (Corbin Bleu) relive their childhood memories by dancing in a junkyard. You’ll see lots of hip hop and breaking. “Zac actually gets down,” assistant choreographer Chucky Klapow told me. “He does break in this movie! He’ll blow people away. You will not believe it.”

  • “Scream” – Zac’s solo will showcase his newly improved dancing abilities, complete with him jumping off lockers and sliding down the hallway. “Zac is an untrained dancer…yet this kid is just driven,” director Kenny Ortega told me. “He keeps getting better and better and better. He’s done some things in HSM3 that he couldn’t have done in HSM1 or 2.”

  • “I Want it All” – Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale) tries to convince her brother Ryan (Lucas Grabeel) that they can be stars on Broadway with their names lit on marquees. The Fosse-style and classical jazz choreography incorporates all 18 principal dancers, 24 featured dancers and more than 30 background dancers. Ashley has five costume changes and Chucky, who is excited about the grand lighting and staging allowed by HSM3’s expanded $30 million budget, promised, “The cafeteria is going to look different than anyone has seen.”

  • “A Night to Remember” – Actors and dancers alike were challenged by this prom scene, which involved lots of partnering. “It’s not something we do a lot,” said Jameson Perry, who got the job as a principal dancer fresh off his stint with ICONic from season one of MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew. Dances like the waltz and cha cha evolve into a group circle and a jazz breakout. Look for Zac and Vanessa’s rooftop waltz in the rain. “It’s a classic movie moment,” Chucky said, “like old movie musicals.”

  • Finale: The message behind the finale from HSM1 – “We’re All In This Together” – became a mantra for the franchise. They’re revisiting the concept in the conclusion of HSM3 — which, of course, wraps up the series for the original cast. “It’s a reinvention and improvement on what we were able to accomplish on ‘We’re All In This Together,’” Chucky said. “We’re taking the choreography and going more simple in certain areas, to the point where kids can dance along in the same way that the first movie was so accessible that anybody can do it.”