An Inside Look Into The Life of a Choreographer


    “I love the way dance allows you to express yourself in a variety of different ways. With dance, the body is like a canvas that can be painted upon in any way that they, the director, dancer, or choreographer chooses!” stated Melissa Staab, lifelong dancer and choreographer, and coordinator for Disney’s Performing Arts.  


    Staab has choreographed for Yorba Linda Spotlight Theater Company, Orange County School of the Arts, Broadway Knights, San Juan Hills High School, Oak Park High School, Santa Fe Springs Theater Company, El Camino Real Playhouse, El Dorado High School, Yorba Linda High School, and Calvary Christian High School in Downey.


    Staab began dancing when she was only three years old, and has been choreographing for eight years. “Dance has many forms and styles, there are so many different ways to express it that it is impossible to run out of inspiration,” Staab explained, with an interview with the Matador Messenger. “Dancing always puts me in a good mood, and I love how much fun I have while dancing.”


    Staab’s dream is to become a high school theater teacher. She just recently decided to go back to school to get her teaching credential, and she hopes to be teaching and running her own theater program in the fall.


    Melissa Staab has a background as a Disney performer in the “Parade of Dreams”, “Electrical Light Parade”, and “A Christmas Fantasy Parade”. She currently works as the coordinator for Disney’s Performing Arts. She brings in Guest Talent to perform at the resort. Staab coordinates all the shows, as well as works as a stage manager helping run all the group’s events. She gets to work with all types of performers from all across the globe.


    One of the traits crucial to being a musical theater choreographer is being able to work with children. Patience and tolerance is very important when in the process. “It is always a challenge to find choreography and build the numbers so that they can feature the performers who are strong, while still making those with less experience feel confident and looking good. It is also an educational experience, and you want the kids to leave having learned something from there time with you.” says Staab.  


    “It is a lot more work than working with adults or even high schoolers, but the energy of children’s theater is just so amazing, and I love that all the kids are so eager to be performing and part of a show. Its shaping the future performers of the world!” she adds.


    Melissa has achieved many great accomplishments. One of them that she is most proud of is a number from a production of “Evita” that she choreographed was chosen out of 20 high schools to perform on the Pantages Stage at the Jerry Herman awards in front of thousands of people. Also, Staab was nominated for Best Choreography for a production of “Urinetown”.


    In this field, many challenges are expected. Some come in the form of certain restrictions such as time and space for rehearsal, or a money concern. But, to Melissa Staab, all the strife is worth it in the end.


    “At the end of the day, when you see the final product of the performance and the actors are up on stage performing their hearts out, you forget about all the challenges that happened along the way. In that moment you forget how sweaty you were during rehearsal, or how tired you were, or how many times you had to repeat something because people weren’t paying attention. It all is worth it at the end because no matter how hard the process is, the show always comes together, and the reward is seeing the actors working hard on stage and enjoying every moment.”