Knowing who will help you along your life path is impossible, so it’s best to show kindness to everyone, television and film choreographer Danielle Flora told students on Monday.
Ms. Flora, who has choreographed sketches, monologues and performances for “Saturday Night Live” for 17 years, said that connections she made throughout her career as dancer and choreographer opened doors to incredible opportunities. “Be nice to everyone, from the person who gets your coffee to the director. Being respectful really makes a difference,” Ms. Flora told students. Leaving a good impression matters in the entertainment industry, where word about personalities and work ethic travels quickly.
“The set designer at ‘Saturday Night Live’ is the person who recommended me for ‘Lip Sync Battle,’” Ms. Flora noted, referencing a segment from “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” that became its own show on Spike. “You should always be professional, and try to find a way to relate to the people you meet.”
Ms. Flora started her career as a New York Knicks City Dancer after studying acting at Emerson College. A chance meeting with Beth McCarthy-Miller, the director of “Saturday Night Live,” launched her into her first choreography job at the NBC show. She has also worked on “The Tonight Show,” “30 Rock,” “Inside Amy Schumer,” and several televised awards ceremonies, as well as the feature films “Trainwreck,” “The Night Before,” and “Date Night.”
During her two-day visit to Milton, Ms. Flora taught a hip hop dance master class that was open to students and adults, and worked with students in drama and improvisation classes. At night, she joined students for an informal discussion about her work.
The world of professional dance is highly competitive, Ms. Flora said, recalling auditioning hundreds of dancers for 12 spots on “Lip Sync Battle.” Aspiring dancers should never stop learning, attending classes and watching peers’ performances, she said. “Pay attention and watch other dancers. You get so much out of watching somebody do something well—from their facial expressions, the angle of their hands. All those little details matter,” she said. “Entertainment can be a rough business, but a lot of the dancers I’ve worked with have been able to see the world while on tour with some of the most famous musicians. They get to spend their lives doing fun and creative things.”
Ms. Flora was the first Melissa Dilworth Gold ‘61 Visiting Artist of the school year. The series commemorates Melissa’s life and interests by bringing internationally recognized artists to campus.