Art / Interviews

Heather Laura Gray Dances Into 2024

Choreographer Heather Laura Gray understands dance to be emblematic of the sacred connection between the physical and the mental. Whether for a performance or relaxation, dance can set you free. “If you let it, movement brings you to the present moment,” she says. “It calms the mind in order to deepen the connection with the body and puts you in tune with yourself or someone else to play or to just simply enjoy doing it.” Heather‘s years of phenomenal work in the film and TV industry have recently earned her a Children’s and Family Emmy. She is humbled to be recognized for having the privilege of expressing her biggest passion. “The acknowledgement of two nominations for the movie musicals Monster High and Snow Day has allowed me to reflect on a lifetime of commitment to my craft that I can celebrate and be proud of no matter what the outcome, but winning the Emmy award has been extraordinary to me. Choreography awards for scripted narratives at the primetime Emmys only began in 2019, and the fact that it also exists with the C&F Emmys is the result of a lot of tireless work from the Emmy choreography peer group to make sure the value of the role is acknowledged. I definitely feel a part of something greater and look forward to supporting the journey to one day have choreography awards at the Golden Globes or Oscars. There have been decades upon decades of indisputable and invaluable contributions by choreographers to so many films without ever getting recognized, so it is deeply meaningful to me to be recognized in this way. ”

Dance and choreography have always been Heather‘s natural talents. She was a born leader with plenty of ideas. “The instinct was there at a really young age to make up dances and perform them for my family. Then, I started training in acting first and later became obsessed with dance, to the point where my music teacher gave me the opportunity to choreograph the school musicals in grades 6 and 7. I’m so appreciative of her!” Heather’s introduction into the entertainment industry revolved around dance. It was a bond that would carry her through the ensuing evolutions of her career. “I eventually found my way into acting, dancing, and singing professionally, but that instinct to create through dance stayed with me. I began producing and choreographing my own full-length stage shows and learned a ton, but realized I needed to have a broader understanding of choreography to maximize my creative ability. I felt limited. I began dancing for other contemporary choreographers and learned from their processes while continuing to develop and hone my own work. As I started to feel that my body wasn’t able to perform at its optimal level, I knew my relationship with dance wasn’t over. I decided to take all of my experience with the stage and screen and add in the challenge of choreographing for film and TV.”

She enjoys the rush of planning fancy and delightful footwork for popular media. “It has been a wild and amazing ride so far. No matter how stressful things can get while making it happen at times, I’m always exhilarated to see it come to life.” Her craft has developed alongside her confidence thanks to some extraordinary experiences. “Working with director John Ridley, who won an Academy Award for 12 Years a Slave, was a transformative experience that made me realize the value of the skills I was developing, even during moments when I felt completely immersed and lost in them. All of it was necessary for me in order to really take in the depth of John Ridley’s script and direction to then feel my way from his words into seeing it in my mind’s eye. Then I could create and set it on the dancers. I’ll never forget the look on his face after the dancers performed it in rehearsal.” Heather is eager to test her limits and experiment with new formats. “As I continue to enjoy sharing the love of dance through choreography, I’m really interested in the challenge of sharing it through writing and directing.” New projects are in the pipeline and she wants to tell a wide range of stories. “I’d love the opportunity to choreograph a feature musical. I’m also developing a dramatic short about a woman using dance as a means to heal from her past sexual trauma, but she uncovers something dark and mysterious that stands in her way.” Clearly, dance can be just as versatile as the artist themselves.

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Heather Laura Gray Dances Into 2024. Photo Credit: Richie Lubaton Studio.

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