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The clock may have struck midnight, but LIU Post junior Rhaamell Burke-Missouri isn’t turning into a pumpkin anytime soon.
The dance major from Clayton, N.C. is back on campus after spending the fall performing in the national tour of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Beginning in September in Grand Rapids, Mich., Burke-Missouri was a member of the ensemble that played to enthusiastic crowds across the country and in Canada.
Along the way, he found that his LIU Post education had made him ready for just about anything the tour threw at him.
“All of the dancing that we get to take as dance majors made me well-rounded,” said Burke-Missouri, who covered six different roles in the ensemble as a “swing” understudy. “The show has so many different things – it has waltz, it has ballet, it has jazz, it has tumbling – and I feel like here, you get all of that. I also have voice, acting, Suzuki method…all of those things give me an advantage in this world.”
Performing in the national tour of Cinderella – based on the 2013 Broadway production that won a Tony and three Drama Desk Awards – gave Burke-Missouri the opportunity to work with a pair of Broadway veterans in director Mark Brokaw and choreographer Josh Rhodes, making the experience invaluable to his pursuit of his own career.
“The way they worded the show gave it so much more meaning,” Burke-Missouri said. “When you think of the show, you think, ‘We all know it: she loses her shoe, he gives her a shoe, it fits, they get married.’ But there’s a deeper meaning: be kind to all people of this world and do good things to other people. We had [Tony-winning costume designer] William Ivey Long come in and tell us about the costumes. There’s this one lift, and we just thought, ‘The girl’s getting lifted,’ but the guys in all green and the girls in their dresses symbolize flowers, so it’s just a bouquet of flowers on stage with the right lighting and the right lift, because there’s purples and reds and oranges, and you have Cinderella in the middle as this beautiful white flower. So much detail has gone into the costumes and the music, which gives it so much more meaning, but it can only come from those people’s mouths. It was stunning.”
Readjusting to campus life after being out on tour has its challenges – “On tour you get up at 12 or 1,” Burke-Missouri said, “and for school I have to wake up at 7 for 9:30 classes” – but, the experience of touring has fueled his approach to his studies.
“Being here taught me to be a sponge,” Burke-Missouri said, “and learn and absorb as much as possible.”
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