Magazine article Dance Spirit

Made for TV

Magazine article Dance Spirit

Made for TV

Article excerpt

CHRISTOPHER FLEMING ON TURNING A HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETE WITH ZERO CLASSICAL TRAINING INTO A BALLET DANCER ON MTV'S HIT SHOW "MADE." By Kathryn Holmes

MAKING A TV SHOW

CASTING CALL: After producers chose Mack Shane from the pool of applicants, they went scouting for a teacher who could turn Mack into a ballet dancer. Producers solicited dance instructors in the Philadelphia area and filmed them teaching class. "We need coaches who are colorful characters, and very knowledgeable in their fields," says Bob Kusbit, the creator and executive producer of "MADE." "With Christopher, we liked that he didn't fit the stereotype of what people think a ballet instructor is like. Take him out of the dance environment and he could just as easily be coaching football."

PARTNER UP: Fleming focused on teaching pas de deux, because Mack already had upper body strength. "If you have two guys with equal technique, and one is a better partner, who's going to get the part?" Fleming asks. "I wanted to take the strength that Mack had and work with it."

CANDID CAMERA: "I was very comfortable being on camera," says Fleming. "I had done enough television and film in my dancing career that it didn't bother me. Also, I wasn't going to change my teaching style for them."

FINAL EXAM: Fleming says he was more concerned than nervous during Mack's final audition, in which Mack performed "Arabian Dance" from The Nutcracker in front of Rock School directors Bojan and Stephanie Spassoff. "Arabian has a lot of difficult lifts," says Fleming. "If he messed up, he could have injured himself or his partner. …

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