Casey Bagnall: Master of the Dance

If you have been to a musical at Ames High since 2008, chances are you’ve seen some dancing choreographed by him. If you went to the Ames High homecoming football game this year and witnessed the entire marching band turn into dancing zombies, you are familiar with his work. But the work of Ames High senior Casey Bagnall doesn’t stop there. "I started when I was three," Bagnall said. "My inspiration came from my older sister Erin. I dance at Robert Thomas Dancenter ." Dancing is Bagnall’s passion, and when asked how much he dances in a week, it’s hard for him to even count all the hours. "Oh crap , " Bagnall said. "Monday it’s two, Tuesday four and a half, Wednesday it’s three, Thursday it’s two. Nothing on Friday. Saturday it depends, I’d say about three hours, and on Sunday it’s six hours." On December 12th, Bagnall will be reprising his role as the Nutcracker in The Nutcracker , which will be presented at Stephens Auditorium December 12th and 13th. "I started [dancing in the] Nutcracker when I was eight. This will be my ninth year in [ The Nutcracker ], " Bagnall said. "The best part about the Nutcracker is seeing people that wouldn’t normally dance move out of their comfort zone and try something new." Though it’s his ninth year in The Nutcracker, and his second year with the lead role, Bagnall still feels the pressure. "The most difficult thing is you are the Nutcracker , therefore people look at you to the absolute epitome of good dancing." Bagnall said. Bagnall is also known at Ames High for his choreographing. "The first musical I choreographed was T he Protagonist [in the spring of 2008] and that was fun." Bagnall said. "Jacob [Canfield] and Hannah [Button-Harrison] came to me and asked if I could do it for them, and I was like sure. I started thinking that some of my stuff was going to get shown and I wanted it to look good." Bagnall also worked on last winter’s musical, Babes In Arms . "I hadn’t originally heard of it, until Mr. Woolery suggested it, so I had to do my research. But it ended up being pretty successful." Bagnall said. "The best thing [about choreographing] is being able to put thoughts into motions into movements, because dancing is like breathing with your feet," Bagnall said. This is easier said than done, however, and to create dances, Bagnall has to think about all the different aspects of a show. "I listen to the music a lot," Bagnall said. "I listen to what the words are conveying, especially in musicals where personality is over the top. Then I try to convey either the emotion or the feel that the song is trying to express into movement. You know if you’re mad you don’t want to stay in one place and sing about how you’re mad, you want to move somewhere." This winter, Bagnall will be choreographing the musical Grease for Ames High, and he is excited about the opportunity. "I think Grease was one of those break through musicals that was allowed to get away with movements that weren’t politically correct at the time," Bagnall said. "I don’t want to offend anyone with my movements. Grease has its own style, and I will definitely be taking some stuff from the movie and the musical." Being a male dancer isn’t always easy. "I know some people who have [had people make fun of them for dancing]," Bagnall said. "But most of the people I hang out with are totally accepting of everything." To those boys who dance but have trouble with people mocking them, Bagnall says to "stay strong, and if they truly have a passion for what they do, then they should go for it." After he graduates from high school, Bagnall plans to attend "a four year college, major in musical theater and minor in dance. The overall goal is Broadway." Many artists choose New York as their ultimate destination, but Bagnall explains that New York attracts him "because I love the whole personality that it brings. I love bringing all three – dancing, acting, and singing – into one." Dancing has been a lifelong passion of Casey Bagnall’s. From dancing in his ninth The Nutcracker to choreographing his third musical this winter, his achievements have been great. His last word of advice to those choreographers that come after him is "to stay true to what you think should be done, don’t try to compromise to either the audience or the play itself. Just be true to what the music is telling you."