Student Choreographer Shines at Margaret Buerkle Middle School

Students standing in a high school gym

Traditionally, JumpStart Theatre requires a three-teacher team: one choreographer, one director, and one music director. When Kari Lebrun, theatre director at Margaret Buerkle Middle School was approached by an 8th grader to choreograph the school’s first musical, she obliged. 

With more than six years of professional dance experience, Natalie Maddox, an 8th grader at Buerkle, choreographed the middle school’s first musical Fame JR. Natalie’s arrangement was so successful, staff asked her to help with the Buerkle’s spring production of Annie JR.

JumpStart Theatre mentor Victoria Churchill observed Natalie teaching her peers the choreography for “Hard Knock Life” and was impressed. 

“There she was with her choreography notebook open,” Victoria marveled. “Inside were the lyrics to the songs, notes, and sketches of where the actors needed to be and the body positions they needed to be in.” 

Natalie displays her choreography notebook
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Victoria watched in amazement as the cast attentively focused on Natalie, following her directions. The choreography was clean, fun, and right on with the music. 

After practice, Victoria asked Natalie where she learned to teach like that and Natalie said, “I just watched my dance teachers and wrote down the choreography in a way that made sense to me.” 

Natalie’s teachers are looking forward to seeing where her talent leads her and are grateful that she has this opportunity to shine. 

Margaret Buerkle Middle School is in their second year of the JumpStart Theatre and their program is evolving. Kari also shared that Natalie’s leadership of the choreography for their musical allowed another JumpStart Theatre teacher to establish the role of Tech Director, a position that manages all the technical elements of the production and recruits a team of student technicians.

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