Jennifer Weber is a choreographer you should know. The Lucille Lortel and Bessie Award nominated choreographer recently made her West End debut with the pop megahit &Juliet. Off-Broadway, she worked on the sold-out musical KPOP and the popular stage adaptation of Cruel Intentions. Her Hip Hop Nutcracker toured the country and aired on PBS. On February 14, she’ll thrill the Disney crowd with her choreography of the highly-anticipated Disney Chanel original movie Zombies 2.
BroadwayBox recently caught up with Jennifer to discuss her time with Zombies 2, what she looks for in casting, and her Broadway hopes for &Juliet.
1. What inspired you when creating the choreography for Disney’s Zombies 2? How did you find the dance language you wanted to use for that world?
The most exciting part of creating the choreography for Zombies 2 was that I got to develop three unique movement vocabularies for the different types of characters in the film. The plot features cheerleaders, zombies, and werewolves, and for each group, I used movement to define their energy and identity. The cheerleaders move in perfect unison nailing lots of tosses, jumps and quick formation changes. The Zombies have their own unique hip hop style. They are the ultimate dance crew, mixing old school locking and more contemporary hip hop. In contrast, the Werewolves have a more freestyle club inspired vibe that incorporates house and breaking.
I always create based on story and character and then the music is a big influence on what gets created. You have to embody what you hear. I like to prep a lot and then be totally open to following an impulse in the moment.
2. What was your most memorable day on set?
There were so many! One day we were filming a scene that involved dancing through water. The location was freezing, and I was so worried that the dancers were going to be miserable and wouldn’t have it in them to do the scene more than once. As soon as everyone started doing the choreography with all the splashing and sliding, it became so much fun. We could barely get the dancers out of the water! On camera, the movement looks incredible and the joy that drives the moment is so authentic.
3. What do you look for when casting dancers? What stands out to you in a room?
What stands out to me are people who have a magical quality that is hard to put into words but everyone knows it when they see it. Someone who pulls you in with their movement. I love working with people who have deep vocabularies and are masters at a specific style. I’m also very sensitive to positive energy and try to cast people who are open, responsible and will always bring their best selves into the room.
4. Who have been the dancers and choreographers that most influenced you coming up?
I take inspiration from so many different sources—from Steven Hoggett to Hi-Hat to Fosse.
5. How do you keep yourself immersed in what’s happening and the trends within hip hop, street dance, and dance crazes?
I learn a lot from the dancers I work with. I’m lucky in that I get to work all over the globe, so I see dance trends and how they evolve on a global scale. With hip hop specifically, there is a lot of variety in regional styles, so it’s always exciting to see what’s going on in other places.
6. You have not yet made your Broadway debut but fans are hungry to have the musicals KPOP and &Juliet on Broadway. Which of those do you think or hope we’ll see first on the Main Stem?
I wish I knew! I love both shows so much and I hope to share them with NYC audiences! But for the time being, if you’re in London, definitely go see &Juliet in the West End. You won’t have a better time.
Tune into Disney February 14 to see Zombies 2, and keep on the lookout for &Juliet and KPOP.