Somewhere over the rainbow, or just across the country, two Dance Tech Studio dancers will be performing off-Broadway. Twelve-year-old Maddisyn Chandler and 14-year-old Kaci Kahler both auditioned — and were accepted — for a spot in the off-Broadway production of “Over the Rainbow,” a rock ballet based on “The Wizard of Oz” choreographed and produced by dance instructor and choreographer Marlowe Scott.
The three-performance show, which will feature a variety of dance styles from ballet to hip-hop, has sold out its July 11, 13 and 14 dates, and producers hope that July’s production and the slated August shows will help generate a new style on Broadway.
Choreographers for “Over the Rainbow” held auditions at Legacy Dance Championships, a national dance studio competition held the last week of June in the Wisconsin Dells, and that’s where Chandler and Kahler got their breaks. While the production hasn’t found a location to perform in August, organizers are planning for one to open up, and it’s anticipated that both Kahler and Maddisyn will be performing together on the stage in New York City.
“I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so excited,’” said Kahler, who has been with Dance Tech Studios since she was a toddler.
While Kahler and Chandler were both accepted to perform in the production slated to come in August, Chandler was one of two dancers at the competition who was given the opportunity to perform in the production held in July-, which meant Chandler and her mother, Angela, had just a week to plan the trip to New York.
“I was really shocked and I was really just happy, but it was really hard because I felt really rushed,” Maddisyn said.
Maddisyn is new to the Dance Tech Studio this year after a move from Oregon, and she wants to become a professional dancer like her cousin, who lives in Los Angeles and works in the commercial dance and entertainment industry.
“She’s seen what that looks like, but now she can come to New York and experience this part of the industry, which is so different,” Angela said.
In between competing dances for top prizes and high scores at the Legacy Dance National competition, dancers had the option to learn a jazz routine and perform it for the audition for “Over the Rainbow.” While Chandler had audition experience, Kahler did not.
“At a competition, one of my teachers said that whenever you see an audition, always take it,” Kahler said. “So when I saw the opportunity, I took it.”
The announcement of the dancers’ acceptance happened at the awards ceremony at the end of the near week-long competition, with friends gathered around them on stage and family in the audience.
“I’m so incredibly proud and excited for both of our dancers,” Dance Tech owner Robin Lind said. “They both are extremely hard workers and very talented young ladies. Each of them possesses a special gift that I’m sure shined through at their auditions.”
Angela, who was watching from the audience, said, “I was in total shock and disbelief, and I started crying.”
The Chandlers flew to New York on July 6 and spent a few days across the river in New Jersey in rehearsals, after which they shuffled over to Manhattan for tech rehearsals before the performances. Madissyn spent just two and a half hours on Sunday learning her routines, spending time being placed into her spots as a dancer and being fitted for her costumes, including one she’ll wear while playing a monkey.
“It’s pretty easy to pick up because I’ve had to pick up a dance pretty quickly before,” Maddisyn said.
“[The cast and crew] have all been super welcoming,” Angela commented. “They’ve been pretty amazing.”
Kahler is spending her month before the anticipated August performance keeping up her skills. Other than working out more and focusing on flexibility and core work, she’ll be practicing at Dance Tech and other studios around the metro.
“I’m trying to work on my technique more so I’ll be more technically accurate and so that everything looks nice. I’m trying to get everything better so I can do well when I go over there,” Kahler said.
“If all goes well, it will be so fun that she can come back in August and she and Kaci will get to experience this together,” Angela said. “It’s so cool, because who gets the opportunity to dance on a stage in New York when you’re 12, at a production where there’s an actual paying audience?”