This yr’s Tony Awards had been practically canceled. There was a second when it appeared like Broadway’s huge evening is likely to be collateral injury within the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike. However a compromise was reached: The union wouldn’t picket the occasion so long as it wasn’t scripted.
Although that may sound somewhat dangerous, it additionally supplied a chance, within the phrases of choreographer Karla Puno Garcia, “to carry dance in a very huge method.” Garcia isn’t new to the Tonys; she was affiliate choreographer and a dancer for Sergio Trujillo’s opening quantity in 2021, and has carried out within the present with the casts of Gigi and Hamilton. Now, as choreographer, she will get to assist create the imaginative and prescient for a broadcast by which dance will certainly be taking over some main-character vitality.
Though she couldn’t share particulars on precisely what that can appear like (“You’ll simply need to tune in!” she says), Garcia was capable of supply the inside track on how the chance got here collectively, and what it was prefer to collaborate with triple-threat host Ariana DeBose.
How did you discover out that you simply’d be choreographing this yr’s Tonys?
Ariana DeBose known as me and requested if I used to be and accessible. I mentioned sure and sure! [Laughs]
That was just a few weeks in the past. I used to be in tech rehearsal for Days of Wine and Roses on the Atlantic Theater when she known as. (I’m co-choreographer with Sergio Trujillo.) That simply opened Monday evening. I additionally simply began a brand new immersive present known as Tipsy Whispers on Monday. So I’m not sleeping, however I’m so grateful, and my thoughts has simply been creating content material like wild.
What’s your historical past with Ariana? Did your time in Hamilton overlap?
Very briefly. She was on her method out whereas I used to be nonetheless studying the present. However that was one in all many crossovers we’ve had. We’ve been within the trenches with one another as dancers, as performers, making an attempt to ebook our slots in Broadway reveals. We’ve carried out in gigs collectively. And he or she has all the time been a supporter of my choreography. So we have now a mutual respect for one another, and it was actually cool to see a peer—now turned Oscar winner!—acknowledged in such a giant method. She is a drive!
Why do you assume she selected you?
I feel our tastes align. We each love musicality. We love dynamics and spicing issues up in the same method. Ari is an unbelievable dancer, an incredible showman, and, on prime of that, she’s actually funky. We each like sort of bringing the outdated and the brand new collectively, a basic vibe with a contemporary twist.
Is dance taking over a extra outstanding position this yr as a result of the present is unscripted?
I feel in our trade, it’s straightforward to miss a dance ensemble or simply the component of dance. And this yr, it’s actually cool to carry mild upon dance in a giant method due to the circumstances. The opening quantity is simply an enormous celebration of dance. And, with out giving an excessive amount of away, I did get to choreograph one other second later within the present. And that’s all I’ll say. [Laughs]
Why do you assume dancers sometimes get neglected?
We inform tales via our our bodies, and there aren’t any phrases. Our our bodies are the phrases. However I feel we’re at a degree after we’re gonna begin to see an enormous wave of telling tales via dance, particularly onstage. There’s a brand new technology of choreographers and creatives and administrators which have totally different views, and I feel this various group goes to combine it up.
What does it imply to you to have the ability to work on one thing that reaches so many individuals?
I keep in mind watching the Tony Awards with my household once I was 9 years outdated—seeing Broadway reveals on my TV—and getting excited to not solely watch them stay however, finally, hopefully get to be in them. To be part of creating the imaginative and prescient that does that’s super-super-special.