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Q&A With New Show Choir Choreographer, Lexi Robson

4th+Ave+poses+with+Lexi+Robson+after+finishing+their+choreography+camp.
4th Ave poses with Lexi Robson after finishing their choreography camp.

4th Ave poses with Lexi Robson after finishing their choreography camp.

4th Ave poses with Lexi Robson after finishing their choreography camp.

Lindy Rublaitus, Reporter

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City High Show Choir has welcomed a new choreographer to the team this year. Lexi Robson first came into contact with Dr. Thompson and Dr. Grove when she judged a competition in Anamosa. Before the end of last year, the directors knew they would need a new choreographer for both show choirs and reached out to Robson.

Q: How long have you been doing choreography for show choir?
A: I choreographed my first show choir as a junior in high school. My junior and senior year I choreographed the 9th-grade group at my school district with my best guy friend and fellow dance captain. Professionally, I have been choreographing since 2009. I began choreographing full-time in 2014.

Q: How many schools have you worked with?
A: Total over all time? Too many to count. This year, I’m working with 25 groups in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois, Massachusetts, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and California.

Q: Have you enjoyed your time teaching at City High?
A: Absolutely! I know that probably sounds like a canned answer. But in all honesty, with the varsity group especially, I’ve never connected with a group of kids so quickly. I felt like we all loved and respected each other from day one. The 4th-Ave kids have shown incredible work ethic during my time spent with them. City Lights as well! I’m so excited to be involved in a new chapter with this program and to help bring them to the next level, because they are totally capable of having a crazy successful season.

Q: What is the hardest part of being a choreographer?
A: My schedule from July through March is pretty tough. I am constantly on the road and am choreographing a new number daily. My creative brain feels totally spent at this point in the season. I crave to spend time in my own home and relax my mind! In fact, when I have a random day off every three or four weeks, I don’t leave my couch and spend the day binge-watching TV shows. Another thing about my job is I never leave work at work. I am thinking and stressing about my groups 24/7. Just when I finish one group and have a moment of relief, it’s on to the next group. Even when I force myself to turn my brain off and just watch TV, I still find myself dancing in my seat.

Q: What are you most excited for this season?
A: My favorite part of the season happens approximately two weeks before competition, give or take. Groups have been cleaning their singing and dancing for many months to the point where they think their show just can’t get any better. At this point, I get to come in and fine tune the choreography and help bring it to the next level. The work and progress that happens during the last couple of weeks before competitions actually start is always incredible to me, and I love watching this transformation from pretty good to excellent.

Q: What is your process of making a show? How long does it take?
A: I have different processes with different groups. Some groups I am involved with starting day one–helping to pick music, set arrangements, pick hair and costumes, and ultimately choreograph. Other groups, I arrive and am given the show, and then I get to creating. There are perks behind both processes. Obviously, it is much more rewarding to be involved for the long-haul. However, my real expertise lies within the choreography, so I will just explain that process. I am a huge procrastinator, and the biggest reason that aspect of my life hasn’t changed is because I definitely do my best work under pressure. This part of who I am stresses me out like crazy, but I am always elated with how the choreography turns out! My brain cannot handle more than one show at a time, so I typically do not think about a specific show until the few days before meeting with the group for the first time, sometimes even the day before. I listen to the music and map out the show, meaning I write down what all is involved in each number–verse, chorus, bridge, dance break, etc. For day one with a group, I usually prepare chunks of two songs that are different styles. I teach the group the two different sections, then spend time watching them perform the choreography in small groups. This helps me gauge the dance levels of the members of the group, which will help me with the duration of my choreographic process. When teaching a show, I prefer to knock out the entire set in one set amount of time. This way I remember exactly what choreography I’ve given, what blocking positions I’ve given, etc. because I never want any of the numbers within a show to look alike. Sometimes scheduling doesn’t work out that way, so I always make the best of it. But in a perfect world, if I am choreographing 4-5 numbers for a group, I prefer to have 5-6 days in a row of working with them to get it all choreographed and learned. I make sure each song in the show has its own specific style and choreography, which is made easier if all of the songs in the show are different to begin with. Being a choreographer, a judge, and an audience member, this is SO IMPORTANT to keep the judges/audience engaged throughout the performance. I am also very picky about my blocking positions and where kids are placed on the stage, so this is something I also spend a lot of time on. One of the most important things I do during my process of creating a show is getting to know each and every kid’s name in the group. Kids are so important, and they need to realize that. But first, you have to show them that they are important through your actions and the way you treat them. I am a firm believer that kids will always work harder for you once they realize their importance and feel that they are valued.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a choreographer?
A: I have two favorite parts of being a choreographer. One is getting paid to dance and create daily AS MY JOB. It’s so awesome getting paid to do something you love. At this point in my life, I can’t see myself doing anything else. The biggest thing I love, though, is sharing my passion for dance and performing with high school kids across the country. Being able to express yourself through art has been life-changing for me, and I can only hope I help change other kids’ lives through this process!

Q: Why did you choose to become a choreographer?
A: Because I love dancing and creating art, and because I love passing on my passion for the performing arts to high school kids. I’m a huge advocate for STEAM and feel that the arts are totally underrated. It is incredibly rewarding getting to build relationships through dance with not only high school kids, but also their directors, and watch the realization of the importance of performing arts grow with every rehearsal and performance.

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Q&A With New Show Choir Choreographer, Lexi Robson