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'La La Land' choreographer takes dreams from Western Slope to silver screen

Photo courtesy of Wendy Moore

The choreographer behind one of Hollywood’s most successful films is a Colorado girl at heart. Mandy Moore drew from her parents’ passion for performance. And it turns out they’ve been key players in the Roaring Fork Valley’s theater community for decades.

On Sunday, "La La Land" dazzled, taking home six Academy Awards, not including Best Picture. During the ceremony, singer John Legend performed a medley of “City of Stars," which won Best Original Song ” and “Audition."

But Mandy Moore’s choreography at the award show had a story to tell all its own. Much like the characters in the film, Mandy Moore has always been a dreamer. She said the underlying themes in the screenplay really resonated with her.

“Immediately, when I read the script, I thought, you know I have a bit of Mia in me, I am that girl that moved to L.A. to pursue her dreams,” she said.

After graduating high school in Breckenridge, she made the leap to Hollywood in pursuit of her own dance career. Before landing recurring work on "Dancing With The Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," Mandy Moore said she had her own moments similar to what the film’s character Mia experiences.

“You know that conversation she has with Ryan’s character Sebastian, where she’s ready to quit, doesn’t want to do it?” she asked. “Like, I remember having those kinds of conversations with my parents.”

Her parents are Glenwood Springs residents Bob and Wendy Moore. Bob Moore acts and Wendy Moore directs. Together, they’ve worked with the Sopris Theatre Company, Aspen Community Theatre and the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue, among other local companies. Bob Moore said the base of the story is in Moore’s choreography in "La La Land."

“Her ability to take the music and tell a story that is self contained within the dance itself amazes me,” he said. “She has a tremendous ability to tell a story through movement."

He and Wendy Moore admit to having seen the film nearly a dozen times. They said the movie captures the essence of their daughter’s journey. When Mandy Moore hears music, she sees movement that creates a story. Wendy Moore said she noticed this even when Mandy Moore was a just a baby.  


“I remember her bouncing to the beat of the music, and I thought ‘Well, that’s cute.’” she said. “And then I would change the music, it would be a completely different musical beat, and she would bounce to that and I thought, ‘This is really weird.’”


Wendy Moore gave up dancing to become a teacher and later the principal of Roaring Fork High School until her retirement in 2005. Counseling teenagers who felt discouraged from following their dreams inspired Wendy Moore to let her daughter and her younger sister Missy follow theirs.


“What’s the worst thing that can happen?” Wendy Moore said. “You fail and you pick up the phone. You say, ‘Okay, that didn’t work.’”


The Moore family is close. So a win for one Moore is a win for the whole family. Like the recognition for Mandy Moore’s choreography in "La La Land" or Missy Moore’s Henry Award from the Colorado Theatre Guild.


Although L.A. has her for now, Mandy Moore said she sees herself moving back to the slopes someday.


“I spend a lot of time there,” she said. “I go there whenever I have days off. I think my heart is there and will always be there.”





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