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Choreographer Christopher Scott Discusses His Work On “Teen Beach 2”

“Teen Beach 2” is the highly anticipated music- and dance-driven sequel to “Teen Beach Movie,” premiering FRIDAY, JUNE 26 (8:00 p.m., ET/PT) on Disney Channel. (Disney Channel/Francisco Roman)

Christopher Scott is always on the move. His choreographed routines can be seen in content as diverse as Virgin America’s passenger safety training video to “So You Think You Can Dance” (two of his FYTYCD routines were so respected he received Emmy nominations in 2012 and 2014.) He also provided the choreography to Disney Channel’s 2013 hit movie “Teen Beach.” On Friday, June 26th, fans of “Teen Beach” and Scott alike will return to the sun, fun and exciting choreography in “Teen Beach 2.”

Variety 411 caught up with Scott as he was traveling between jobs to discuss his work on “Teen Beach 2” and his process in choreographing infections dance routines.  What fallows is a discussion about his work.

Variety 411: What was it about the world of “Teen Beach” that made you want to sign up for part two?

Christopher Scott: It was definitely the connection that I had with the cast as well as director Jeffrey Hornaday. They’re an amazing group of people; we’re just like a family. We say that a lot in the industry, but this is one of the movies where it really feels like a family.

Variety 411: What is your first step when preparing the choreographed numbers? do you try out moves and record them on camera to see them first?

Christopher Scott: The very first step is reading the script. As soon as I read the script, the ideas start to form. With musicals it’s about – “How can, I as the choreographer, tell the story of the script?” It always comes from what the scene is before and after the dance sequence. Also, you ask yourself – “What is the relationship between the characters at this point in the story? Are they upset with each other? Is this the first time they meet?” It really all comes from the script.

Once we’re making up the actual moves, we play the music over and over and over again. We’re just try stuff out and tape it and see what works.

Variety 411: How much time do you have to create/rehearse the dance numbers?

Christopher Scott: We had an interesting process – it was about seven weeks total with about a month of rehearsals with the cast.

Variety 411: “Teen Beach 2” blends a huge range of styles – from very contemporary to a style that reflects the 60s period films. How did you build the choreography to blend these styles so seamlessly? Was it a combination of working with location, song style and script?

Christopher Scott: The music definitely inspires the movement of dance. The script also influences the dances. Another big factor is the people that we have. For example, if the script is going into the modern world, then we do modern-style movements. It’s also based on the dancers we have to work with. (Lead actor) Ross Lynch naturally moves so we can build a dance for him. We incorporated Raymond Cham, Jr.’s amazing B-boy skills into his character(Devon.) John DeLuca (“Butchy”) tumbles, so we tried to put that in as best we could. A lot of the time, it’s asking the dances to show me what abilities they have, and then trying to use those.

Variety 411: There are a lot of props and set pieces that are worked into the dance numbers. Do you speak with the art department to ensure the items work effectively or do the ideas arise once you are on set, looking for ways to integrate the characters into their surroundings?

Christopher Scott: It’s always a bit of both. Nine out of ten times it comes from rehearsals and ideas that I or the director will come up with. Props are tricky but they have quickly become one of my favorite things.

Every once in a while the magic happens when we’re on set. We’ll say “Grab that prop and let’s do something with it!” We’re a fun, go-with-the-flow kind of bunch so it happens a lot in this movie. I really think that’s part of the magic of the film. That spontaneity gives it an organic feel and the reason why it feels like it’s happening on the spot; sometimes it actually is.

Variety 411: Speaking of these props: how do you keep the performers safe using all these items? This seems especially tricky with dancing on the sand; one fall is like scraping legs up with many tiny razors.

Christopher Scott: We always make sure we rehearse on location before we start shooting. We never throw the dancers in on the spot. If we’re dancing on a truck, then we do a rehearsal on the truck to ensure what we’re doing isn’t putting anyone in danger. Also, no one wants to dance with something they’re afraid of – it’s about getting comfortable with prop or the setting. It’s always safety first with these numbers

Variety 411: How much say do you have in the casting of leads and background? What is it like to work out multiple numbers with a group that (may) have a diverse range of expertise?

Christopher Scott: I’m definitely very fortunate with Disney Channel because I’ve been able to recommend dancers on several occasions where that were cast as characters in the film. It wasn’t something planned out – to help in casting– but it was really cool once the casting director and director saw some of these dancers and the amazing personalities that they had. It was really a nice surprise when they ended up casting them. With that said, we ended up with a cast of really solid dancers.

It was also a really beautiful process to watch the professional dancers who’ve been doing this all their lives support and help those who hadn’t been dancing that long. A lot of choreographers might hold back on “non-dancers.” We really did push them. I wanted to start big and scale back if it became too hard. This cast was filled with people who, no matter what I gave them, were determined to do it and to make it look good. I was really impressed with this bunch. They all stepped up to the challenge.

Variety 411: Will you be returning to “So You Think You Can Dance” this season?

Christopher Scott: Yes, I’m still working with the show. We’re actually back on in a few weeks with a live show. I’m really excited to get involved this season as they have a new platform which is called “street vs. stage.”

Variety 411: How are you personally elevating your own abilities as a dancer and choreographer?

Christopher Scott: Really, it’s just watching the people around me. I’m very fortunate to have a really cool group of people who I get to work with and every job I work, I try to learn from them. I also learned a lot with the [Teen Beach 2] cast which I think helped make part two bigger and better. I knew them and was able to determine what would look good for this movie.

It’s like taking mental notes with every job I do, so the next time I do it, it’s just making it that much better and weeding out the bad stuff. If something doesn’t work out, I remember not to do it the next time.

Variety 411: I see you are working on “Now You See Me: The Second Act” – a movie with an amazing cast of actors. Are you able to share any form of detail, perhaps how you got involved, what type of dancing we’ll see, or any other comment appropriate to share at this time?

Christopher Scott: I got involved with the film because of the director, Jon M. Chu, who has been one of the most influential people in my career. He really pushed me forward and gave me my start as a choreographer with the LXD (“The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers” series). It’s really cool to work with him as he’s such a fan of dance, and he lets us do really cool stuff every chance we get.

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