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The First Steps: Actor Dan Mooney Among Dancers in 'Coppélia'

Dan Mooney

It's hard to believe I'm waiting for a costume fitting and watching Milwaukee Ballet rehearse Coppélia. They've spent two hours working out the choreography for one minute of a two hour ballet. Now they pause while Michael [Pink] works out a few steps with the principal dancers. Well, not exactly pause...one makes a self-depricating joke about a clumsy moment they just had and everyone laughs. Then a few break off to work on some other steps to make sure they're in unison, or Nadia [Thompson, Ballet Mistress] goes over to make sure the left arm is like so. Then Michael signals to the pianist and they go back and begin again.

Have I mentioned this is without a word - In total respectful silence so Michael can concentrate as he works? Have I mentioned I'm an actor, for whom words are king, and this is a strange and magical land?

A while back Michael asked me if I would be interested in playing Dr. Coppélius in his production of Coppélia. Me? DANCE? But, Michael said, there's no dancing. And you will have no lines to learn. I had to say yes, even though I'd rather learn a million words than remember ten consecutive steps. I'm glad I agreed because it's clear this is a special universe. These dancers support and respect each other. They've been here since 9:30 this morning and they will be at it like this until 6:15 this evening.

I start rehearsal today. I can hope that I don't seem like a beached whale in the perfect pod of lithe young dancers. Relax! Michael will do everything he can do to make me look good.

Dan Mooney
Actor