Sunday, January 29, 2012

Martin Céspedes: choreographer extraordinaire

Spotlight on Martin Céspedes: choreographer extraordinaire

And, the award for the Best Choreography for a Musical Theatre Production in the Cleveland area during 2011 goes to Martin Céspedes for his reinvention of the dancing and staging for JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT at Beck Center. This type of citation is not unusual for the
Westlake resident.

Céspedes has been the recipient of more than ten Times [newspapers] Theatre Tributes awards. He was nominated by Northern Ohio Live for their theater award in 2005, 2006 and 2009. He was named by Scene Magazine as Cleveland’s Best Choreographer of 2006. He was highlighted for his theatrical work by Bravo magazine. He was nominated for the award as Outstanding Cleveland Choreographer by Broadway (The results have not yet been announced.)

Born in New York, Céspedes is a first generation American. His mother, who was a professional singer, is Puerto Rican. His father is Spanish.

He started to gain his dance knowledge when, in fifth grade, he was selected to participate in the elite Jacques d’Amboise’s National Dance Institute in New York City’s PS 161 Program. He was active in that group until, after his parent’s divorce, he moved to Lorain, Ohio to be near his mother’s family.

During high school, he danced in and choreographed local shows and was selected to appear on Cleveland TV’s ‘DANCE FEVER’ and NBC’s ‘WEEKDAY FEVER.’ After graduation he continued his training as an apprentice at the Denver Dance Theatre. While studying there, he saw a casting call for a professional western area tour of ‘GUYS AND DOLLS.’ He tried out, was selected, dropped out of the Denver company, and his professional career was underway.

He went on to appear in the national tours of ‘MAN OF LA MANCHA’ with Jack Jones, ‘THE KING AND I’ with Hayley Mills, ‘SOUTH PACIFIC’ with Robert Goulet and ‘WEST SIDE STORY’ with Bebe Neuwirth. He danced in opening acts for “Earth, Wind and Fire” and the “Bee Gees.”

Céspedes worked as theatre impresario John Kenley’s assistant, running dance rehearsals during the legendary producer’s last several seasons in Akron. He served as associate choreographer and fight captain for the PBS production of ‘LE CID’ with Placido Domingo. He has also choreographed for Great Lakes Theatre Festival, Cleveland Opera, Cleveland State University, Baldwin Wallace College, and The University of Akron Opera Department.

Céspedes considers himself to be a “hybrid director-choreographer in the mode of Jerome Robbins, Michael Kidd, and Bob Fosse.” Many in the Cleveland area would agree with him.

What’s in the future? Coming up are BLOODY BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON and LEGALLY BLONDE, THE MUSICAL at Beck Center. Then, MY WAY, A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO FRANK SINATRA and MAN OF LAMANCHA at True North Cultural Arts.

Having just been inducted into SSDC, the national union for directors and choreographers, Céspedes feels he is “at the point where I am ready to break out.” Does this mean he will leave Cleveland? Though locals may hope not, it is going to be hard to keep this talented man in the area if prestige venues call.

For more information about Céspedes go to