Jamal Sims (Step Up Franchise) has recently signed on as the choreographer for the up coming hip-hop animated film, Central Park Tale. In our interview, Jamal shares a little about himself, the creative challenges associated with choreographing an animated film, or as he calls it “Squirrelography,” along with the excitement of being part of this one of a kind film. Below you will find a video explaining this kickstarter project, along with our interview (written & recorded). Enjoy!
Can you give people some info about who you are?
I’m a choreographer here in LA, and choreographer for all the Step Up Films, the Step Up Franchise. Most recently Step Up Revolution, as well as 23 other films, and also I did the academy awards a couple years ago; basically anything where dance is involved I’ve done. I started in music videos and now I’m in feature films, its kind of been my path.
As far as Central Park Tale, what attracted you to this project?
I think as a choreographer I go more for the challenge, as opposed to doing things that are easy for me. I think when you do animated type movies, especially when you are not dealing with the human body, you are dealing with an animal or whatever it may be; they walk differently and they have tails, so it’s a little bit more thought that has to be put into their movements. It’s definitely a challenge and also you know I’m really a kid at heart. Anything like Happy Feet, our director he was part of Happy Feet and I love that movie. Really I just like to do feel good stuff and I always feel like animated stuff touches a place in everybody’s heart, whether you’re old or young.
Have you ever been involved in an animated feature film before?
Yeah, I did Garfield 1&2 a while back, and that was my first experience with animation and dance.
How do you envision the choreography for the squirrels in this film?
A lot of the stuff for me, especially with choreography, starts with music…so I’m really going to rely on the music. But I definitely feel with my skeleton crew, along with some of my dancers, will get in to a room and start to create squirrelography. Just doing things that feel innate to being a squirrel…like how they move and really coming up with distinct movements for them that would really be on a human. I really want to dig down and find how they would dance; you know what I mean, and how we can combine the two. That’s going to be the approach; it’s just to find something very organic to them.
Do you feel that everything you just mentioned will be the greatest creative challenge?
Yes. Only because there’s only so many steps you can do and of course we are human, so we’re going to move like a human. But the more that I could break that and really try to find how are leads are going to dance, how the girls are going to dance as opposed to the boys, and the different crews, it’s going to be very interesting.
The director Daniel mentioned that he’d like to include elements of Parkour and Martial Arts. How do you see working that into the dance battles?
I think that in most of the tricking styles that are coming out now, they’ve combined Martial Arts, Gymnastics and they’ve come up with a style they call tricking…so I think to combine that with the dance and having people specialize in that to create those sequences with me will be incredible. I can’t wait to do that.
Is there anything else you’d like to add related to this project?
Yes. I would just like everybody to support. I think that growing up for me I had things as a kid that I could watch that was good, clean, and wholesome. Things that would inspire me to wanna dance and I think this is going to be one of those movies. It also has a good lesson: that we aren’t all so different, we’re all the same. I think that just to go in and have good films for young kids to watch, and that my nieces and nephews can watch without any cursing and all that kind of stuff. I think that it’s very important that we continue to have these kinds of films to come up that also involve dance.
Follow Jamal @jamizzi
Help bring this film to life by donating to their kickstarter campaign http://kck.st/NX6xEj
If you’d like to hear the audio version of this interview, listen below!