Gotta dance, choreographer shares his passion in FW Christmas show
by Nancy Churnin
published on November 23, 2018 in The Dallas Morning News
A sprinkle of magic and construction workers, marathon runners and store employees playing elves find themselves dancing in ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas: A Holiday Musical and Parody Spectacular, an original show about a girl named Molly who tries to find her Christmas spirit on an enchanted spin with her mother through New York City. Casa Mañana Theatre in Fort Worth presents Joe Sturgeon’s musical as part of its 2018-19 children’s theater season.
Finding that you can’t stop dancing is something to which choreographer Grady McLeod Bowman can relate. The New York-based choreographer fell in love with dancing at 12 after being “volunteered” by his parents to lift ballerinas in a local production of The Nutcracker in his native North Carolina.
“I had no formal dance training. I remember sitting in the wings and watching the athleticism of the guys doing big jumps and turns, and I remember thinking at that moment: That’s what I want to do,” he says. “It’s so athletic and graceful. It was dance, but it was sport to me. I became obsessed with dancing and shortly thereafter became obsessed with choreographing and making my own things.”
Bowman’s love of dance led to his romance with his wife, Kate Fahrner. He met her on a tour of South Pacific. One of the show’s famous songs, “Some Enchanted Evening,” is about two people who meet and fall in love across a crowded room. They were in the ensemble, with his wife covering the lead, and they fell in love about that quickly.
They got engaged 10 months after they met and married a year later. Now they have a home in New Jersey and a 31/2-year-old daughter who has made the holidays a lot of fun.
“We like to spoil her at Christmas and watch her feel the magic.”
Bowman gets a kick out of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. He finds himself “laughing out loud at the jokes. It’s really fun and lighthearted and clever.”
But as a choreographer, his favorite part is that there’s a reason for the dancing.
“I don’t like it when dance feels like it’s inserted into the script. What’s great about this script is that dance is made to happen by the elves sprinkling Christmas spirit on people. I don’t have to justify the dance. I can just have it happen.”
Bowman’s résumé includes movies and Broadway and working with stars like Academy Award winner and Broadway legend Julie Andrews, Tony Award-winning choreographer Chris Gattelli, and actor and Tony Award-winning director Joe Mantello. As a child, he had a line in the film Forrest Gump as one of the kids taunting Forrest.
Bowman’s wife has performed before at Casa Mañana, in A Chorus Line. This is Bowman’s first time choreographing in Fort Worth, but he hopes to come back, he says. He’s also hoping that his routines will be so much fun that the audience will find their toes tapping, just as his have been since he was a kid.
“The goal is for the love of dance to spread throughout the entire theater.”
Get your tickets for Twas the Night Before Christmas, playing now through December 23rd, here.
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Photo credit Chip Tompkins.