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  • Writer's pictureKristyn Burtt

'La La Land' Has More Ties To 'Dancing With The Stars' Than You Ever Imagined

Photo credit: Dale Robinette

While we are in the middle of Season 23 of Dancing With the Stars, I want to make sure you have this upcoming film on your radar — La La Land. It’s a lush-looking film directed by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

The film follows the lives of a jazz musician, played by Gosling, and an aspiring actress, played by Stone, who are trying to make their dreams come true in Los Angeles. What makes this film so special is the musical-dance sequences that are being described as magical, lush and reminiscent of the golden age of Hollywood movie musicals.

For DWTS fans, you will not only enjoy the dancing, but there are some interesting ties back to the ABC competition show. Take a look:

Mandy Moore

Mandy Moore is DWTS’ Performance Producer and she’s also the choreographer on La La Land. Jillian Meyers and Michael Riccio were her choreography assistants on the shoot. Riccio is currently an Associate Producer on DWTS.

Waltz Scene

In the production notes for La La Land, Moore describes the waltz scene as the heart of the film because the dance is done on wires to create a gravity-free experience.

“We wanted the audience to feel Sebastian (Gosling) and Mia (Stone) fall into this beautiful waltz because they have no other choice but to dance in that moment,” she explained. “There’s some beautiful camerawork in the sequence and it has so much feeling.”

There are also some familiar DWTS faces who helped with the waltz scene — current pros Artem Chigvintsev and Sharna Burgess as well as former troupe member, Julz Tocker.

Photo credit: Lionsgate Films


The beautiful waltz scene was filmed at Griffith Park in and around the planetarium at Griffith Observatory. DWTS’ Week 1 opening number featured the exterior setting to kick off the season. Moore must have had some incredible inspiration after working at this beautiful location for La La Land.

If you missed this season’s breathtaking opening number, here’s a refresher:


You will see tons of familiar faces from the Los Angeles dance scene, including a few So You Think You Can Dance favorites. As for DWTS dancers, former troupe member Shannon Holtzapffel is a part of the film's Hollywood party scene.

La La Land will be released on Dec. 9 and it is expected to be a huge contender in this year's Oscars race.

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