Chat it Up: Ryan Steele

The Ryan Steele takeover of the world is in full-swing. Amidst his busy schedule of breaking the Internet with flawless videos, playing the lead in the new film, Five Dances, dancing in the hopping Matilda and curing cancer with his smile he was darling enough to chat with me over the phone. Because the world needs more of their daily Ryan Steele dosage - and lookie, he's on the Twitter at @RySteele!

NRNW: Well first, I have a few questions about Matilda - one of the most exciting pieces of choreography I've seen is "The School Song." What goes through your mind while performing that number?
Ryan: Trying not to fall off the gate *laughs*. That number was rehearsed to a 'T' because there is obviously a certain level of danger - so it's very meticulous and every movement is very specific and you can't give anything less then 110% or check out for even a second. That said, it is a privilege to be doing that choreography on stage.

NRNW: I love the character of Rudolpho - a role you have filled in for several times. What is it like performing such an over-the-top character and performing "Loud" as Rudolpho or in the ensemble?
Ryan: The entire show is very bold and every character is through-the-roof! This project came at the perfect time in my career and my learning curve as a performer because I am not very bold and big with my choices on stage, so to have to do that and to be forced into a situation that I really had no choice to do, it was really wonderful and I learned a lot about myself as a performer and my limits…it's been a lot of fun.

NRNW: Moving on to Five Dances, how did you get involved in this project?
Ryan: My agent initially sent me a breakdown for a low-budget film….as a performer in New York City, you go to a few auditions a week, so it was just another audition for me. I wasn't really going in with expectations. The breakdown said that I needed to prepare a three-minute dance and either a story or a monologue…I didn't have a monologue prepared, and they said I could tell a story. As soon as I started, it was pretty embarrassing. I did the solo and then I got a callback and they sent me a monologue to learn. And this time I went in, I didn't have to dance at all, I just read the monologue a couple of times and read with a few other dancers auditioning. And, I got the job and I went to coffee with Alan Browne, our director, and I got an idea of what it was. We filmed three months later in January.

NRNW: How do you relate to the character of Chip? Does his journey mimic your personal one at all?
Ryan: Not really - I did move from the midwest, but I did not have such a crazy family life. I was pretty darn lucky when I first moved to the city - my sister was living in Queens, so I lived with her for three months. I had a job when I first moved here, so I didn't really have that sense of uncertainty that Chip had when he moved to the city.

NRNW: I really liked the movie as a showcase of your talents, not just as a dancer, but as an actor.  Since the choreography looked like second nature to you, did you have any apprehensions regarding the acting portions?
Ryan: YES!

NRNW: You're so honest!
Ryan: I actually found the choreography sort of difficult as well *laughs*. It felt like I was trying on a pair of pants that didn't really fit me…the acting was definitely a learning experience, I never had a project this size in terms of acting, but the four other performers were also in the same boat in terms of acting experience. So we all just went in with trust in each other and zero pride. We were just in it for learning and the experience and it was a great environment to attack.

NRNW: Do you remember what your favorite day on set was or your favorite scene to film?
Ryan: Our production took two weeks, so everything was on top of each other and it all blends together…the entire time though was a blast.

NRNW: Okay, random fun questions! Favorite movie about dancing?
Ryan: I love Dirty Dancing, sort of cheesy to say, but I do love it.

NRNW: Actor, actress, dancer or choreographer you would drop everything to work with?
Ryan: Christopher Gattelli.

NRNW: Good choice. What show on or off-Broadway are you recommending to others, other then Matilda and Newsies?
Ryan: I love Once.

NRNW: If you could pick any show to perform alongside [boyfriend] Matt Doyle, what show would that be?
Ryan: Oh, gosh…*laughs*, I've never really thought about that.

NRNW: You two have a dinner conversation topic now.
Ryan: I don't know - maybe a new musical where there happens to be two main characters, one who sings and one who dances.

NRNW: What is your favorite thing about the Fall?
Ryan: I like not being sweaty everywhere I go.

NRNW: Great answer. Thank you for your time - congrats on the film!
Ryan: Thanks very much, thanks for chatting!

Photo Credit: @RySteele on Twitter/Curtis Holbrook

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