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In Step With DC
DC Behind the Scenes: Making The Lion King – Choreography
Written by Erin Sforza on August 2, 2019

This year’s Recital Company production of The Lion King was an immense undertaking! From sets, to costumes, to choreography, it took our staff, students, and volunteers many long hours of dedication to put everything together. In this summer series we’ll be taking a look at each aspect of our recital production number to give you an all access pass and an insider’s view of what it takes to make recital magic happen.

Our teachers spent hours every weekend developing and teaching the choreography for this amazing piece, and continued to put time in adjusting it so that everything made sense in the auditorium space. It was polished both in the studio as well as on stage in rehearsal. The cast had multiple rehearsals of the different sections during Dress Rehearsal Week, and that was in addition to their dress rehearsals for classes!

To get an understanding of what it is like to put together and bring to life such a huge piece we spoke to our teachers/choreographers.

Miss Mary Naftal

I fell in love with the Broadway show Lion King and knew when I saw it that I wanted this to be one of our productions for Recital Company. It was challenging to choreograph it into a 10 to 12 minute dance and have it still convey the story and feel of the Lion King on Broadway but I am proud to say the team of dancers, teachers and talented prop and costume making parents did it and it was a hit. Every time we put this production on we continue to tweak the choreography, add costumes and make existing costumes even better. No matter how many times we do it I still love it as if it were the first time. It is by far one of my favorite recital openings.

Miss Jenn D’Auria

This past dance season preparing for our Lion King production was amazing. Originally I was dancer in our 1st (as a Recital Company member) and 2nd (Competition Team) Lion King productions. I had the pleasure of being a choreographer for a third Lion King production when we enhanced it once again as well as this past season for our 30th Anniversary.

Being involved in our opening production is a great feeling, this year we focused on ways to internalize your inner “animal” This year was a great experience adding all our extra animals and all different costumes to make our Lion King production feel like the audience was watching Broadway.

Miss Tiffany Seda

Having the opportunity to choreograph for the 2018/2019 production of The Lion King was absolutely thrilling! I was the only choreographer that hadn’t been a part of our past productions so it was an honor to be a part of this magical team.

Once we worked out the musical cuts and breakdown of animals, it was a really fun challenge to let the students “become” their characters. And as a mom, a dancer and choreographer I felt myself doing the same when I was envisioning ideas!! Also, working on the costumes (especially the giraffes!) was a fantastic part of the creative process. The score is so beautiful and being a part of this group was truly inspiring.

Miss Melinda Civitella

Working on Lion King for our 30th Anniversary Production was very exciting! Although we have done it in the past, Dance Connection always tries to improve on costumes like the birds and the monkeys.

Choreographing a dance while staying true to the animal-like movement is challenging but very rewarding. As the dancers embraced their new animals, our choreography started to come to life.

The Lion King is one of my favorite shows, and I’m glad we got to bring a little bit of Broadway to Long Island.

Miss Donna Iaboni

It was so great to choreograph for Lion King this year! I’m so blessed to work with such an amazing bunch of teachers/choreographers and dancers.

This was my third time being involved with the Lion King production and I’ve been lucky enough to play the role of Timon each time, as well as having the opportunity to grow as a choreographer while working on it. I love watching the piece come to life on the stage with costumes, props, and the incredible lighting and each time we’ve done it I’m truly amazed at the outcome!

As a team we always strive to be better and to make the piece better…I’d say we succeeded!

Erin Sforza

Erin is the Public Relations Coordinator for Dance Connection. She studied dance from childhood through college and continues to be an active member of the Long Island theatre community. Erin received a BA in both Musical Theatre Performance and History from the University of Tampa, and has utilized aspects of both degrees working in the hospitality industry, as an Event Coordinator for the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, and as the PR/Marketing Coordinator and Group Sales Coordinator for the CM Performing Arts Center in Oakdale. In addition to being a part of the Dance Connection staff, she is a Travel Consultant affiliated with and