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How the New ‘Little Mermaid’ Goes Back ‘Under the Sea’ | Anatomy of a Scene

NYT, 30 May 2023
When the director Rob Marshall took a journey “down where it’s wetter,” he decided to bring a dance company with him.

The beloved musical number “Under the Sea” has received a makeover in the new version of “The Little Mermaid,” this time featuring one live performer (Halle Bailey as Ariel) and a host of exotic computer-generated dancing sea creatures flanking her.

Narrating the scene, Marshall called it “the most challenging musical sequence I’ve ever created.” He had to figure out how to introduce dance into the scene and make it “feel organic.”

To pull it off, he “took a page out of Walt Disney’s playbook.” Disney worked with the Ballets Russes to bring animated sequences to life in “Fantasia.” And here, Marshall worked with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, bringing its members to London to execute the choreography of the scene. Then, CG animators used the company’s dance as a template to animate the movement of the sea creatures.

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