When my knees began to crunch and my back would seize from simply breathing, I knew it was time to hang up my character shoes. In Disney’s latest aniamted short, director Zach Parish brings the ideology of love and eternal youth thorught the language of dance without a single word being spoken. The results are pure genius in the form of Us Again. Set in a vibrant city pulsating with rhythm and movement, a smile permeated from the inside out, watching an elderly man and his young-at-heart wife rekindle youthful passion for life and each other on one magical night is breathtaking. Of course, the movement comes to life beautifully with the electric, funky compositions of Pinar Toprak. Toprak has the distniction of becoming the first woman to compose and score a feature for the MCU!!! Girl power at its finest.
It was my immense pleasure to attend a press conference moderated by one of tmy favs from ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”, dancer extraordinaire Derek Hough and attended by Parish, Toprak, producer Brad Simonsen, Keone and Mari Madrid. So, how and where was this brilliant idea born? Here are excerpts from that conversation…
ZACH PARISH: A few years back when I was starting to feel some physical signs of aging. Now, I know that I’m not that old, but it really snuck up and kind of surprised me. So, I was feeling this desire to go back to a part of my life that I felt was lost. I would have these conversations with my mother, who, was in her 60s at the time, where she would talk about all the cool things she was gonna do when she grew up. I realized that if I spent all of my time focused on the past, I was gonna miss the beauty of the present. Thn, I realized this dichotomy within my grandparents in my family. named Art and Dot – who the characters are actually named after. I started thinking about interesting mechanisms we could use for that fountain of youth, and thought it’d be really cool if it could be a magical rainstorm…using rain to raise the stakes since rain is temporary much like-like youth is.
DEREK HOUGH: How was choreographing on this animated project different from all the other projects you guys have been a part of?
KEONE MADRID: Man, you know, I feel like we experienced a dream of feeling like we’re representing dance having the opportunity to have a really strong marriage in this piece was huge. We wanted it to make sense with the story of them being older characters and how they would bring their older personalities into a modern piece was really the driving force. We’re already naturally so inspired by that era.
MARI MADRID: I think, our style and our language are the essence…and kind of fuses together and is always present whenever we’re choreographing. But there is a great moment on a fountain, which makes me think of ‘An American in Paris,’ but that wasn’t planned.
KEONE MADRID: It can be just like fine wine…you can really make some amazing choices and you know-there’s a wisdom to it. I think that’s what’s special about this. It’s a reminder to ourselves that there is no shelf life to it.
and what how that funky, popping score?
PINAR TOPRAK: It’s heart all over the place. It comes out and across in music and really does it justice by explaining their connection in a beautiful way while still making it fun. You know, in the apartment scene where he’s browsing through the channels… it’s tricky to hit all of those things and still making it sound like if you just listen to the track on its own, it still makes sense.
ZACH PARISH: I always said to my wife, I really hope that younger kids, especially, watching this film realize they’re parents were kids once. That their grandparents were kids once and to become curious about what that was. In the process of making this film, I realized how much I had missed and how little I had asked about my own parents, my own grandparents. So, it has really prompted me to try to get as many of those answers as possible.
DEREK HOUGH: If you grab your mom or loved one and just start to move and dance with them. Watch the smile form on their face. It’s one of the most beautiful moments you can have, you know, connections.
Us Again reminded me how precious life is and how we should party and dance until that very last breath. If you missed its theatrical debut alongside Raya and the Last Dragon, it comes to Disney Plus TODAY!!!