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June 20, 2019

Step on It!

Choreographing musical numbers on James Corden’s show keeps Chloe Arnold hopping.

Libby Slate
  • Chloe Arnold rehearses Lin-Manuel Miranda

    CBS
  • James Corden performs “Crosswalk: The Musical” in a Manhattan intersection with Zendaya, Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron.

    CBS

In a segment for The Late Late Show with James Corden, the CBS host, Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda performed snippets of 22 musicals in 12 minutes, complete with props and quick wig and costume changes.

Choreographer Chloe Arnold had 90 minutes to rehearse the stars.

No pressure there. Actually, Arnold is used to pulling off such feats: she was nominated for an Emmy in 2018 for choreographing a Broadway-themed edition of the show's "Crosswalk: The Musical" bit. Corden joined three stars of The Greatest Showman (Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Zendaya) and 16 dancers in performing musical numbers on New York City streets — while traffic lights were red.

"It's a huge undertaking that really is magical," Arnold says of her work on the show, which she joined in 2016. Segments typically run 10 minutes and take two days to prepare, block and perform. "Everyone does their homework, and they bring their excitement. James and the celebrities usually have an hour of rehearsal — he pushes everybody's courage."

Arnold's other credits include Corden's The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke Primetime Special, John Legend's 2018 Christmas special and the telefilm Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland.

Whatever the project, she says, "The first thing I think about is, 'What is the feeling of the piece?' Dance is non-verbal, so everything comes emotionally. That feeling is decided by the music. What is the vibe? The script, the music, the rhythm — everything speaks to me."

Arnold learned from the best: actress- choreographer Debbie Allen chose her from a field of 800 hopefuls to be one of 12 performers in a show Allen was doing in Arnold's hometown, Washington, D.C. Arnold was 16 at the time; she later stayed at Allen's Los Angeles home on summer breaks from Columbia University and moved to L.A. after graduation, at Allen's encouragement.

"She taught me to be as versatile as possible," Arnold says of her mentor, "and that there are no limits except your imagination."

That versatility extends to Arnold's other projects. She is the founder and artistic director of the all-female tap troupe Syncopated Ladies. She and younger sister Maud formed the brand Chloe & Maud; they have tap shoe and activewear lines and were among the producers of the 2015 documentary Tap World.

The sisters are also working on television and film ideas. Arnold says they "just want to keep telling stories and celebrate life through dance."


This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 5, 2019

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