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Behind the Scenes: Hot Guys Dancing

January 9, 2014 5:36 a.m.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speaks with choreographer Michael Mizerany about 'Hot Guys Dancing."

Related Story: Behind The Scenes: 'Hot Guys Dancing'


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: Diversionary Theater wanted dance on its program but couldn’t risk losing money. That’ when they came up with Hot Guys Dancing. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando explains what you can expect from the show, which is in its second year.

TAG: Hot Guys Dancing runs through January 12 at Diversionary Theater in South Park. Watch for Beth’s video tonight on Evening Edition.

Choreographer Michael Mizerany is serious about his work so when Diversionary Theater told him the name of his dance program would be Hot Guys Dancing, he had to pause for a moment.

MICHAEL MIZERANY: I’m like oh! Okay I mean, I’m not crazy about that title and they were like well we know our demographic, we think that title’s gonna sell.

And that was key. As a small theater company, Diversionary has to keep a keen eye on the bottom line. So no matter how badly it wanted dance on their stage, it also knew it couldn’t lose money. Hot Guys Dancing definitely gave them a marketing edge. But Mizerany wanted to make one thing clear.

MICHAEL MIZERANY: It’s not like guys on poles or guys on boxes, it’s going to be a contemporary dance concert and they were like that’s cool. And so people came in and they didn’t know what it was going to be or didn’t think it was going to be what they saw but the reaction was so positive.

So positive that the show sold out last year and is back again this year.

KRIS EITLAND: Who doesn’t like to see handsome bodies flying through the air, it can be very exciting.

Kris Eitland is a San Diego Dance Critic who has been following Mizerany’s work for years.

KRIS EITLAND: He really turned the whole idea on its head. And I think that some viewers maybe were looking for Magic Mike, that kind of Chippendale kind of stuff and it was much more nuanced and it certainly had much stronger themes, much more about acceptance of men in general and also looking at acceptance of men in so many different ways… and I applaud him for that because he did take a risk doing that.

Not so risky this year according to Mizerany.

MICHAEL MIZERANY: I feel like people know what it is and know it’s going to be a modern dance show and it will be hot, different guys in the show and it’s going to be cutting edge so they know what that is. This year I don’t have to explain it so much. But it’s definitely marketable, very marketable, it is what it says… It is a very provocative, sexy, sensual, artful, show….

Eitland agrees.

KRIS EITLAND: They really enjoy being able to have something that’s beautiful to look at, physical but at the same time it’s quite provocative and will stimulate conversation.

The latest edition of Hot Guys Dancing contains three dance pieces. Mizerany oversees the production and choreographed an intense 5-minute piece called Rush, about drug addiction. For the piece, Mizerany worked with 17-year-old Dylan Hoffinger.

MICHAEL MIZERANY: I really wanted to use the hip hop, how they break their own body parts in different ways so I am not trained in that but Dylan has experience with that so I would get up and show him badly what I wanted.

DYLAN HOFFINGER: And I was like um, okay. So I did an idea of what he said. We are 2 different style dancers, and we both have different backgrounds so we had to work together… He allowed me to explore his movement in my own body and in my own style and… so working with him has been very freeing in that I can show him my vocabulary, he can show me his vocabulary, we can fuse it together.

Hoffinger found the experience inspiring. Mizerany saw himself as both a partner in a collaboration and a mentor channeling Hoffinger’s youthful energy. A key point Mizerany wanted to convey to the young dancer was that he had to get into the character’s mind in order to find meaning to the movement.

MICHAEL MIZERANY: It’s not just doing movement because I say to lift your leg, yes I want a high leg but why’s it going high, is it a reaction to something, is it a reaction to the drug and much of it is a reaction to being deprived of something.

Hoffinger couldn’t relate specifically to the drug experience.

DYLAN HOFFINGER: but I know what it’s like to crave and what it’s like to want something and to be feeding for it all the time and so to like put that into my movement it brings an energy.

An energy that the tiny Diversionary can barely contain. Eitland says Mizerany’s choreography is very physical and athletic.

KRIS EITLAND: There are some dances where you think someone’s gonna get hurt so when they do some of these incredible, I won’t call them stunts, incredible lifts they really are very quite challenging, and you do feel like don’t mess up cause they could be in your lap right? You can see the sweat, you can really hear their breathing so that makes it even more potent.

And Mizerany is happy to put dance right in the laps of San Diego audiences.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.