“Don’tcha Wanna Dance” Unites Artists Around The World — Virtually
Updated: Apr 22
Sam Quinn, Alex Hartman, and Kayley Anne Collins, like many New York City performers during the COVID-19 pandemic, understand first hand the loneliness and isolation that comes as a side effect of the state-issued and CDC recommended safer-at-home guidelines.
“Something was missing,” Sam Quinn — a well-known dancer, performer, and adjudicator told Dance News & Culture. “We needed something — a video — that could bring as many people together through dance and music, from as many places as possible — virtually.”
Quinn knows a thing or two about bringing people together. Last fall, Quinn was the catalyst behind ‘Good Morning Ballet’ — a movement in support of #BoysDanceToo — that gathered hundreds of dancers together in Times Square in response to on-air comments ‘Good Morning America’ anchor Lara Spencer made that seemingly shamed Prince George — the six-year-old son of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge — for his interest in ballet.
Quinn, along with Hartman — who among other talents stands as a dynamic triple threat performer and teacher at Dance Molinari in New York City— and Collins — a powerhouse vocalist and actress — felt the call to create something that might perhaps bring some comfort and creativity to other artists struggling during the pandemic.
Making The Band
Sam Quinn, Emily Bear, Alex Hartman, & Kayley Anne Collins.
Delegating the use of their best talents, the trio opted to create a dance video, with choreography by Quinn and Hartman, and vocals by Collins. In order to get what they truly wanted, though, Hartman offered to reach out to a long time friend — singer, songwriter, and piano prodigy, Emily Bear.
“I’ve known [Emily] since she was 5 years old,” Hartman said.
Bear, who became a national sensation when she appeared on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ at the age of six, lent a hand in the musical arrangements and also sings on the track.
Emily Bear returns to 'Ellen' at 17. Video courtesy: 'The Ellen Show'/Youtube.
“Most of the people I’ve been talking to during this situation feel very isolated and alone and purposeless,” Collins said. “So, when we decided that we were going to make a video, I wanted to make a mash-up.”
The songs used for the piece are a blend of “Rainbow”, by Kacey Musgraves, and Whitney Houston’s classic, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”.
“‘Rainbow’ is such a message of hope, that everything is going to be okay — and ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ has that driving anthem feel with an eye toward the future when we will be dancing together again,” Collins said. “We picked songs that help people remember that we’re all in this together.”
“We wanted to remind people of that light at the end of the tunnel,” Quinn added.
Creating The Video
Kayley Anne Collins in concert at 54 Below in New York City.
“With regard to the arrangement, Emily and Kayley talked about what they wanted as far as structure,” Hartman explained, “then Emily laid down the piano tracks, and we sent them to our musicians.”
The video features musical tracks recorded separately by Bear and three other musicians — Darren Thomas McGuire on bass, Andrew Zinsmeister on guitar, and Jon Foster Drums. Ryan Motley, a Broadway sound mixer from shows like 'Tina' and 'The Book Of Mormon', master-mixed the video's sound — along with some help from Hartman.
"Alex did like 94% of the sound mixing," Quinn added with a laugh. "She's really good at that, too."
While Collins and Bear got to work on the music, Quinn and Hartman got to work on the dance.
“Choreographically, it was a little challenging because we had to design the dance to stay almost completely in place — because you have to think about the person who has limited space,” Quinn said. “It was interesting to create choreography that literally moves toward and away from the camera, without going too far side-to-side."
“And, that any level could do,” Hartman added.
Fast And Furious
Hartman and Quinn creating the video.
The team put the whole project together fast, too.
“The whole video — from concept to release — happened in less than two weeks,” Quinn explained.
“Alex and I choreographed to the chorus of ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’, and then we sent a tutorial video out to dancers teaching them the choreography — and 117 people sent videos back!”
“Within two days!” Hartman added. “We couldn’t believe how many people sent it back with such a crazy deadline.”
Even under the quick turnaround, however, the team was able to pull talent from all over the globe to join them.
On top of performers from the US, dancers from eight other countries — Australia, the United Kingdom, Panama, Brazil, France, Israel, Canada, and Indonesia — joined in the making of the video.
Top Tier Talent
And, on top of the video’s international flair, the team was also able to pull in some pretty recognizable names to join in, too.
On top of Quinn, Hartman, Collins, and Bear themselves, the video features budding talent and Instagram superstar “Boss Baby” Brody Schaffer, Chita Rivera Award-winning Broadway dancer Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, and ‘Moulin Rouge’s Fredric Odgaard.
Boss Baby Brody appears in the "Don'tcha Wanna Dance" video.
Other top-notch talent includes a whole host of theatre dance stars, Broadway associate choreographers, Rockettes and more. Dancers like Dee Tomasetta, Sara Brians, Chip Abbott, Colin Bradbury, Allyson Carr, Katelyn Gaffney, Courtney Rottenberger, Rachel Borgman, Kourtney Keitt, Mindy Moeller, and even Movement Exchange — a dance group from Panama — all make appearances.
A Chance To Dance
“This became a really nice and somewhat different opportunity for dancers during this time — a chance to dance and not have to pay for dance class or be looked at by other people on a zoom session,” Hartman said. “From the feedback we got, it seemed a lot of people were happy to have an inspiration and purpose to dance.”
Ultimately though, the video was put out to bring joy.
“Our mission is to make people happy, feel good, and smile,” Quinn said.
“But, we can’t wait for people to hear the track too,” Hartman added. “When the beat drops in, get ready. We cried.”
Michael Mahany serves as NYC Dance News & Culture’s founder and Editor-At-Large. Additionally, he is a professional actor, singer, dancer who appears nightly in the 10th Anniversary production of 'Rock Of Ages' in New York City. He's also a co-host of the 'Pod De Deux' dance podcast. Follow him on Instagram, Twitter, or visit www.michaelmahany.com for more. Story tips? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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