Much more than strictly ballroom

by Beacon Staff • March 19, 2008

With the success of X-Dance, it is clear that dancers have made a niche for themselves at Emerson. Marlena Yannetti, a full-time faculty member and Emerson's dancer-in-residence, and Adam Eisenhut, a sophomore theatre studies major and dance minor, have also made a place for dance in the film world.

Yannetti and Eisenhut are choreographing ballroom dance sequences for the film The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, which is set to come out in 2009.

Yannetti first became involved in the film in early February, when Donna Bloom, an Emerson alumna, contacted the college to see if they could recommend a choreographer. Emerson recommended Yannetti, whose choreography "has been seen at various venues in and around the Boston area, as well as at Emerson College in Faculty Dance Concerts," according to the college's Web site.

Shortly after signing onto the film as a choreographer, Yannetti decided to ask a student to assist her. Yannetti chose Adam Eisenhut, a student that she knew from her Intermediate Jazz class and from X-Dance.

"He's just a delight and it was very fortuitous," Yannetti said. While Yannetti has had plenty of experience both dancing and choreographing all types of dance, Eisenhut's specialty is ballroom dancing.

The actors perform the foxtrot, which Eisenhut describes as "a typical Fred and Ginger type of dance. It's sophisticated, but fun and swanky."

The actors, including Robert Forster and Anne Archer, danced Yannetti and Eisenhut's choreography through rooms in the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Mass.

"One of my talents is to make people look good using their strong points. I try to use the actors good qualities and expand on them," Yannetti said. Though the actors had no prior ballroom dance training, both Yannetti and Eisenhut said that they rose to the challenge.

"They [the actors] pick things up quickly and they look good dancing," Eisenhut said.

The choreographers are still working with actors Daniel Sunjata and Jennifer Garner on a more intricate foxtrot. They are currently rehearsing and will film the dance in the next few weeks. Though the dance has not yet been completed, Eisenhut said, "They [Sunjata and Garner] look grand doing the foxtrot."

"Our job is to get them to look comfortable with dancing," Yannetti said. The combination of Yannetti's years of experience and Eisenhut's strong, technical ballroom background has allowed them to create dances as they learn from one another.

"I really enjoyed this because there was a lot of collaboration. I got to learn a lot about ballroom from Adam and I lent my aesthetic," Yannetti said. Eisenhut also said that he and Yannetti complemented each other and made a good team.

The opportunity for students and professors to work closely is one of the aspects of Emerson that Yannetti truly enjoys. "It's a wonderful opportunity for both students and professors. We all learn from each other and that's the joy of Emerson College."

Eisenhut has taken advantage of the opportunities to help choreograph the film as well as different Emerson shows, including the upcoming Musical Theatre Society show, Sugar. These occasions have given Eisenhut the chance to grow as a choreographer. "It's really fun to see these little smatterings come together and to see my work on other dancers," Eisenhut said. Eisenhut hopes put an emphasis on choreographing within his major and minor at Emerson.