Her moves got to Tom Cruise…
Last summer, Asbury Park resident and area yoga and dance instructor Serena Soffer served as assistant choreographer on the Miami set of the new film “Rock of Ages.”
The blockbuster summer film, based on the hit Broadway musical about a small-town girl and city guy who meet on the Sunset Strip while pursuing their dreams, will be released June 15.
I spoke with Soffer about her time teaching the likes of Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Catherine Zeta Jones to move like it was 1987 all over again.
TBP: Well, fancy-pants film choreographer, one day I saw you stretching on the boardwalk and the next you told me you were on your way to Miami.
Soffer: It was amazing. “Rock of Ages” was my first major film but I have been dancing and choreographing professionally since I was a little girl on Broadway and television.
Mia Michaels – the primary choreographer for the movie and a friend for two decades – called me and three days later my 17-year-old Yorkie, Jake, and I were flying down to Miami to live for three months.
Adam Shankman, the director, hired a team of seasoned pros to choreograph the movie. I was responsible for helping train the talent and coordinate the props, costumes and sets as they related to the dance scenes – basically 14 hour days of running.
TBP: What was the most exciting day on the set for you?
Soffer: Every day was incredible. Any time Tom Cruise walked in the room it was amazing. He had an entourage and energy. Tom illuminated so much light. He would walk in all charged up and say “let’s (bleep)ing do this” – he was always super-positive. To be part of his creativity was indescribable.
Tom is the hardest working person in show business. When he smiles, his dimples, it’s really all over. He is a beautiful person inside and out.
And so passionate about making sure he got the dance moves exactly right. He wanted to practice longer and harder and at the end of the day I was like “I can’t believe I just spent the entire day with Tom Cruise.”
Being an 80’s teenager, it was always indescribable to walk on the sets each day and see how the designers turned it out to recreate moments in time like the inside of Tower Records on Broadway in the Village from twenty-five years ago.
The day they filmed “Jukebox Hero” on the Tower Records set I was a primary extra in the full scene. I got all glammed out and costumed with crazy makeup. All I thought was “oh my god, this is amazing. I lived this and now I am reliving it” while I am in a completely different place in my life.
TBP: Your yoga and teaching background helped you too.
Soffer: On set, I did yoga with Russell Brand – he is a Yogi. We would always be talking about life and philosophy, sometimes when he needed to be rehearsing.
I also had a day of teaching Suri Cruise dance which was so fun. She is adorable and a sponge. All she wanted to do was jump and crash into walls – just like her daddy.
The whole film was a beautiful experience. I have seen bits and pieces of the dailies from the movie and it is great. Anyone who loves 80’s music or lived that moment in time will love this movie.
Follow Soffer on Facebook at “Yoga and Other Fun Stuff with Serena Soffer” for information about her yoga and dance classes – some on the beach in Asbury Park.
For TheBPlot’s exclusive interview with Debbie Gibson while she was on the “Rock of Ages” set last year, click here.