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  • By Dana Casadei

Ryan Kasprzak

The results of a coin flip changed the course of Ryan Kasprzak life. In the sixth grade, when he was already doing community theater, his mom found free boys dance classes and even though he was hesitate about going, she thought it would be a good idea. Their compromise? A coin flip. “If it was heads, I would go and if it was tails, she'd never ask me again. It was heads,” Kasprzak said. “So I went to the dance class, and it changed my life.” Now, a few decades later, Kasprzak has worked as a choreographer on television shows like Smash and Fosse/Verdon, the reality show So You Think You Can Dance, and performed in Broadway’s Bandstand and on the Tony Awards. His current gig is on one of the biggest shows to ever hit the theater scene, Hamilton. The Groves High School alumnus is the dance supervisor for the And Peggy touring company. Another serendipitous moment from his past played a role in his current job. As a teenager he met Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton’s Tony Award-winning choreographer, at a dance convention in Lansing. From there, Blankenbuehler became a mentor and friend, and the duo have worked on multiple projects together over the years. “So that relationship sort of led to the opportunity to be part of the growing world of Hamilton,” Kasprzak said. After attending a week-long boot camp for Hamilton in the fall of 2017, Kasprzak began his new job the following summer. The And Peggy cast didn’t start in your typical city though. Their first three weeks of performances were in Puerto Rico. As dance supervisor, Kasprzak takes on the choreographer responsibilities. He rehearses all of the dances in the show, gives notes to the running company, trains understudies, covers, swings, new cast members, and in the case of their Puerto Rico performances, trains original cast members when they come back, like Hamilton creator and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who reprised the title role. “It had been two years since Lin was in the show…the experience of getting to rehearse, putting him back in the show was really fun because that was frantic,” he said. After those performances, the And Peggy cast moved to San Francisco, where they performed until cornovirus shut them down. Kasprzak and his family are currently in New York. “Right now at the moment, I would love to work on any show, and the idea of being back in the theater, being back in the studio, is the thing that I want most of all,” he said. Moving forward, once the world of Broadway is open again, Kasprzak hopes to work in the creation and development of new musicals. He said he loves hearing the music and the way he’s able to translate that into storytelling through dance. “I don't know what part it is of my brain that, like, I can see movement and it translates to my body and I understand it,” he said. “I think that process, like that journey from the first time I hear the music to seeing it on it's feet is my favorite thing.” Despite the variety of work he’s done, one will always be his number one. “My heart will always be with Broadway,” Kasprzak said. “That's what I dreamed about when I was a kid and getting to work on Broadway shows, that's where I feel most comfortable.” Turns out some dreams do come true. All you have to do is flip a coin. Photo: James Jin

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