Dance meets animation in 'Puss in Boots' performance

What would an egg dancing the cha-cha look like?

Laura Gorenstein Miller, choreographer, artistic director and founder of Helios Dance Theater, found herself imagining this picture for the animated film, “Puss in Boots,” directed by her husband Chris Miller.

On Saturday morning, a large audience was treated to the show “Puss in Boots: From Drawings To Dance,” which mixed live dancing onstage with the film’s animated sequences projected on The Broad Stage’s big screen.

The show, hosted by Miller and her husband, gave the audience a behind-the-scenes look at how animated films merge into the world of dance and cinema.

Miller, who designed the dances for the film, took the audience through the steps of preparing the dances, and her husband explained the process of imagining the film’s sequences.

The first scene that was broken down was “Kitty Cantina,” in which Puss in Boots, voiced by Antonio Banderas, enters a bar populated by cats sipping milk and faces off with fellow bandit Kitty Softpaws, voiced by Salma Hayek.

The great value of this show was how the process of filmmaking was made clear for the audience. First, as a raw concept, a hand-drawn storyboard or sketch of the scene was shown onscreen. Miller brought her husband’s directorial vision into reality by turning his drawings into choreographed movements performed by dancers onstage.

This process happened onset during the making of the film so that sounds for the movie could be recorded while Miller simultaneously made sure that the physical movements of the animated characters looked as realistic as possible.

The show featured a combination of various Latin dances that were showcased by a diverse group of performers who appeared onstage and gave examples of the style corresponding to a particular scene.

In addition to the cha-cha, one of the styles was the Flamenco, which was performed for the scene “Kitty Cantina,” in which Mitzuho Sato, a Flamenco dancer from Japan, performed an intense, fiery piece onstage as a live demonstration of Puss in Boots’ dance in the film.

The audience was having a great time, especially when they had the chance to participate in the show. At one point, Miller invited everyone to get up and do their best Flamenco pose. Children were also invited onstage to meet the dancers and role-play the parts of Puss in Boots and Kitty Softpaws.

After the show, milk and cookies were offered to attendees while the director stepped aside to share his thoughts on the value of students and audiences seeing firsthand the process of filmmaking.

“I think that’s the big takeaway, the process of making a movie,” he said. “I directed the film, but it’s such a gigantic, collaborative effort. You work with a number of storyboard artists and producers and the voice talent. Everyone working in the film is a storyteller.”

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