Magazine article Dance Magazine

Adam Shankman: The Hollywood Producer Confesses That He's Still Envious of Dancers

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Adam Shankman: The Hollywood Producer Confesses That He's Still Envious of Dancers

Article excerpt

Adam Shankman came into the spotlight in 2007 when he choreographed and directed the movie-musical Hairspray and made his first appearances on the "So You Think You Can Dance" judging panel. But he was already more than a decade into his career as a choreographer and budding director. Today, Shankman is a Hollywood mainstay who has worked on scores of movies, TV shows and commercials, including dance classics like the Step Up franchise, which he produced. Next up: Directing the film "What Men Want, which opens in January.

Producing, directing, choreographing--that was never the plan. My dream was to be a chorus boy on Broadway or to dance behind TV personalities. Sometimes it feels like that still is the dream!

I went to Juilliard, but left to do regional theater and ended up in L.A. I started booking music videos--I worked with Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul. I was getting work, but I realized my look wasn't what was happening in the dance world at the time. Everyone was looking for all-American, beefier dancers. I was super-skinny.

My big opportunity was one I made for myself, was in a production office and an assistant ran in and said they just lost their choreographer, and did anyone know someone. I said, "I am!" I had never choreographed anything. I said I'd worked with Paula and Janet, even though I had never choreographed for them. So I lied, and the director hired me on the spot. He ended up loving what I did, and started hiring me a lot.

The timing of my early career felt a little strange. …

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