LATEST PAPER
73° Good Afternoon
73° Good Afternoon
Entertainment

How 'Hercules' choreographer Chase Brock hones the dance skills of 200 NY performers

Choreographer Chase Brock and the company in rehearsal

Choreographer Chase Brock and the company in rehearsal for Public Works' "Hercules," which runs at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park from Friday through Sept. 8. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

More than just a tale of one guy’s strength, “Hercules” concerns what it takes — and means — to be a hero.

Ask choreographer Chase Brock, who’s behind the fancy footwork in the Public Works’ musical adaptation of the 1997 Disney flick running Saturday to Sept. 8 for free at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

“What we’re doing some 20 years after the animated feature is re-examining the hero myth along with the idea of one strong person holding everything up,” he tells amNewYork. “Far more often, it’s a group of people working together.”

In the case of this Public Theater production — written by Kristoffer Diaz, directed by Lear deBessonet and featuring songs by Alan Menken and David Zippel from the movie, as well as new tunes — it’s a very big group.

Between Broadway actors like Jelani Alladin, who originated the role of Kristoff in Broadway's “Frozen” and stars here as Hercules, New Yorkers from community groups across the five boroughs make up a cast of around 200. DreamYard in the Bronx is among them, along with cameo performers such as the modern dance troupe 10 Hairy Legs.

Dance experience runs the gamut — from two left feet with no experience to polished pros.  Brock is determined to make them all look like, well, heroes. “Part of the challenge in this radically inclusive community theater is serving every single one of the 200 people involved in this and making everybody look their best. That’s exciting.”

Brock’s proudest moment? A tambourine dance midway into the show. Originally created for seasoned hoofers, it is now danced by young performers from the community who’ve been in previous Public Works end-of-summer pageants.

“Many of them have had no formal dance training,” Brock says, adding that Alladin was so taken with the moment he asked to be part of it. “It’s a gorgeous meshing of Broadway and community.

If you’re wondering if there’s a moment when all 200 performers are in motion on stage, there is. Sort of. “Actually,” says Brock, “some will be in the audience because they didn’t all fit on stage.”

'Hercules' runs Saturday- Sept. 8 at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. For details on obtaining free tickets visit publictheater.org.

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Entertainment photos & videos