Meet choreographer, Arius West
Arius graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Theatre, Education, and Stage Combat. He is a performer, teaching artist, and director around the greater Central Florida area. He has worked on productions at Orlando Family Stage, Renaissance Theatre Company, CFCArts, ArtReach Orlando, MicheLee Puppets, SeaWorldOrlando, Walt Disney World, and now The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts with students K-12 and adults up to 65+. In addition, Arius is a Co-Founder of MAC Boys Entertainment whose main prerogative is to increase black talent on stage and black people in the audience, and to entertain the community with stories FOR us BY us because we are more than our pain and trauma. In the near future, the company will help tell all BIPOC stories. Some of his most notable works are An Octoroonas the lead role of BJJ/George/M’Closky, Lenox Ave as a Principal Performer and Collaborator, Aida as the Choreographer, Theatre Explorers as aLead Teaching Artist, and The Colored Museum as the Director.
What inspired you to become a theater maker and choreographer?
In 10th grade I went to the county fair and I finally built up the courage to get on the Drop Of Fear ride. While err’body was getting put in the ride and checked for safety, I started pretending to cry and be terrified as a joke, but in reality I was actually terrified. I don’t quite remember what I was saying or how I acted, but my friend told me after the ride that I am ridiculous and that I should audition for the community theatre show at THE DOLLYHAND CULTURAL CENTER in Belle Glade, FL and the rest was literally history.
What kind of education prepared you for this career?
I went to college at UCF and thought I was definitely just gonna study acting and be in theatre clubs and such, but I actually was rejected from the main acting program twice and Glee Club said no too… However, I ended up pursuing Theatre Studies with an Education Minor which guided me with the main classes I needed to graduate and allowed room for me to explore and do other things to work on my craft like Project Spotlight, Play In A Day, Campus Movie Fest, Stage Combat, Scenes in Directing Classes and more!
I also joined a hip hop dance crew called RUKUS which I learned as a member for 1year, became a Choreographer In Training my second year, and then I earned the spot of Artistic Director my 3rd & final year.
What school subjects that our students may be studying do you use everyday?
I think the subject I use just about everyday is language arts. I say that because I remember reading books and plays and analyzing, directing, & discussing them. For me, I feel like those discussions taught me to have open conversations and respect people’s opinions even if we don’t agree and that class also allowed me to be creative and gave me skills I didn’t know I’d need or use; like creative writing, drawing sometimes, speaking in front of others, debating, etc. Granted, I am an artist and not many people pursue this path as a career, but for me, Language Arts seems like the subject I utilize just about err’day!
What is your favorite part about being a choreographer?
Very simple, seeing what’s in my head & written in my notes come to fruition in real life via the process leading up to the final product. For me, it’s the most rewarding & immediate manifestation of an idea or concept.
How did you collaborate and draw inspiration from the director and designers for Click, Clack, BOO! A Tricky Treat?
We had a few meetings and I like to try to “Yes, and,” as much as possible without sticking my own ideas. In collaboration, I took into consideration the director’s vision and planned how to blend it with my own.
Then, I listened to the music to see what vibe or influence of dance I would feel. Indirectly, I also collaborated with the words & lyrics of the Playwright, I like to bring words to life physically.
My favorite part is figuring out how my vision, the director’s vision, and the Playwright’s words can come to life on what the set designer gave us, so I thought about creative ways to utilize as much space as possible and ensure that the audience would see & connect to the story through my Choreography.
Do you enjoy being scared? If so, what kind of scary fun things do you enjoy?
Yes! My favorite scary fun things to do is,
1) strategically scare people or be a victim of a good fright,
2) I’m infatuated with horror movies so going to the theater for a full surround sound scare,
3) Halloween Horror Nights,
4) and SOMETIMES I enjoy my nightmares, but more so after I wake up and realize it was just a dream, lol.
Do you have a favorite Halloween costume you’ve ever worn? (Bonus points if you have a picture)
Awww, I don’t have a picture and in retrospect I was a different variation of a vampire every year as a kid. When I came to college was prolly the first time I ventured outside of that, and I was Witch!
Do you have a favorite Halloween candy?
Unfortunately, I do not… But if I had to choose it would be between black liquorice and tootsie rolls.
What are three words you would use to describe this production?
Classically Comical & Fun!
Get your tickets to see Arius’s choreography in Click, Clack, BOO! A Tricky Treat, here!