Dancer helps promote unity through choreography in rising musical

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Flyer courtesy of Ruth Broyde Sharone

Catherine Gagulashvili copy editor

Many activists advocate peace through traditional means of promotion, like rallies or meetings; some, however, choose a different medium to share the message of unity. Described as, “Broadway bound on the wings of peace,” “Interfaith the Musical” is an in-the-works musical by filmmaker and author Ruth Broyde Sharone that spreads the message of acceptance and tolerance.

Inspired by the Book of Mormon and its ability to poke fun at religion, Sharone wondered if this jocose form of media could be replicated to apply to all religions in a way that celebrates each respective tradition.

“[This musical is] a celebration of our magnificent diversity. That’s really the overall aim of this musical. That includes being able to laugh at ourselves and to appreciate ourselves,” Sharone said. “[After watching the Book of Mormon I thought,] ‘Well, why don’t we have a musical on the stage that relates to all of us, to who we are, to the complexity of who we are, to the fact that we don’t know too much about each other?’”

As she began writing the songs for her musical, Sharone found that, in addition to having diversity among races and religions, she wanted to have a diversity of generations in the show. She employed her friend’s great-niece, senior Lital Mizrahi, to choreograph one of the finale dance pieces for the show.

“She got exactly the meaning and the depth and the promise of the song that she choreographed for me, and she taught it to her dancers in three hours; they have created a work of art. So, I’m really excited that not only are people of different ethnicities and religions taking part in this program, but it’s also intergenerational, that we have young people who are also part of it,” Sharone said.

Mizrahi, immediately after the end of the annual Dance Company show, began working on choreographing the finale piece. The three-minute long lyrical piece proved to be a challenge, especially because of a shoulder injury she sustained during the dance show. Nonetheless, she “pushed through” and recruited her sister, Eden Mizrahi, and juniors Zoe Weiss, Rebekah Sheff and Katie Cooper to be a part of the dance.

“What I had to do was break down the words and really understand what the meaning behind the song was. When you really look at [the dance,] you have to look at it like multiple times to really understand what each movement’s about. The hardest thing for me was to make the dance tell a story through our emotion in movement,” Mizrahi said.

Sharone was satisfied with the dance and believes it fully represents the unity that the song, “Meet Me There,” tries to send.

“I took an enormous leap of faith because [Mizrahi] started choreographing this work without my having seen any of her work. I just knew intuitively…that she was right for this, and I should let her do it,” Sharone said. “Last night, she came over and she showed me a video of [the dance,] and it was beautiful. It was so moving. It was exactly what I was hoping that kind of dance would be.”

Mizrahi has found herself relating to the substance of the musical, as she comes from a multicultural background. She also views this opportunity as a key part of building her resume to further herself in the performing arts industry.

“It’s mostly about just, how, even though I may not be getting paid that much, it’s [important to] know people [in the industry.] Eventually, in the field I want to get into, I have to know people, and this is where you start,” Mizrahi said. “At 13, I started volunteering for jobs like this. Now, when I got older, people are willing to pay me, and that will benefit me in the future. Eventually, if it gets on Broadway, that’d be awesome to be a part of it. So it’s just like taking that extra chance, you know.”

Sharone has been working on the musical since 2014 and hopes to have a finished draft by the end of 2020. She and her cast will be performing a showcase of the musical soundtrack, which is now published, on May 9 at 7 p.m. Sharone views this presentation as an “intermediary step” in the process, as she hopes to one day take this piece to Broadway. More so than taking it to Broadway, she hopes that this musical will become a sought-after learning piece across educational institutions in the U.S.

“Really, the ultimate goal is that this musical be used in high schools and colleges across America and even internationally. That it become a musical that is a way for all of us to express our authenticity of who we are, you know, our ethnicity, or religion, or gender, or whatever it is. [So] that people can start to see themselves on the stage rather than trying to play someone else,” she said.

In addition to what she hopes the musical will amount to, Sharone aspires to impact the way people think. She hopes that after seeing her musical, people will have a different perspective on life.

“We’re all fascinating and diverse and have something to offer as individuals. That’s one of the main things that I would like people to experience during the musical is that we’re just terrific,” she said. “I hope that when people leave the auditoriums, they will also have a sense of hope about what we can do to mend the world to get past the violence and to begin to see each other truly as brothers and sisters. We’re all here for the same purpose: to grow and to learn. And to, most of all, to be able to exist side by side.” 

The showcase of songs for the musical is on Thursday, May 9 from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Pico Union Project. Early bird admission is $27 and seniors and students are $20. Tickets can be found here.

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