How 'The Umbrella Academy' Aced A 'Footloose' Dance-Off During Quarantine
The explosive third season of Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy kicked off on June 22 the old-fashioned way: an all-out dance battle between the titular class and their rivals from the Sparrow Academy, all of whom busted moves to Kenny Loggins’s classic hit “Footloose.” And in a behind-the-scenes clip shared with MTV News on Friday (June 24), the cast revealed how much they enjoyed learning the movements to the song that has soundtracked many a montage.
“Dance training for ‘Footloose’ was so fun, and it felt so special learning to do it,” said Elliot Page, who plays the sound-manipulating violinist Viktor. “Next thing you know, we’re all just breaking it down together.”
The time-travel superhero show follows the Hargreeves, a group of adopted siblings who reunite to solve their father’s mysterious death in the midst of an incoming apocalypse. Along the way, the cast became well-versed in shooting dance scenes. Season 1 showed Luther (Tom Hopper) and Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman) romantically slow-grooving to Toploader’s upbeat “Dancing in the Moonlight” and a montage of several characters jamming spontaneously to Tiffany’s’80s dance-pop single “I Think We’re Alone Now.”
Yet the dance-off was a surprising challenge for the cast, as it involved complex steps and several long days of training. “In the beginning, when I saw the video of what they expected us to do, I was like, ‘There’s no way in hell I’m gonna get this right,” said Genesis Rodriguez, who plays Sloane, a Sparrow with the ability to manipulate gravity. Thankfully, choreographer John Heginbotham, who developed the Kevin Bacon-inspired movements, served as a good teacher. “He is so amazing. Such a patient choreographer with us.”
In the clip, Heginbotham directs the cast to show off their best moves, especially those who lacked formal dance training. The cast can also be seen practicing their line dancing in casual clothes in the studio. “It was really wild meeting a group of people where the first thing you had to do was line-dancing together,” says Jake Epstein, who plays Alphonso, also a super-powered Sparrow with the ability to absorb and deflect physical attacks. “All of us were kinda so bad at it and then we kinda slowly got better together.”
Season 2 left off right as the Hargreeves met face to face with the Sparrow Academy for the first time, and Season 3 picks up from the confrontation. The third season was filmed throughout the first half of 2021, partially during quarantine, so Heginbotham sent the cast the basics of the dance through Zoom for their initial practices. Rehearsals were scheduled every other day until they became daily during two weeks of pre-production.
“It was a lot of hours but in the end, it really paid off,” said David Castañeda, who plays the rebellious, telekinetic Diego. Nonetheless, the whole cast ended up having a good time partying, practicing their footwork, and training hard. “I lived all my Beyoncé and J.Lo moments in that one scene,” Rodriguez added. “I was just living and dancing and expressing myself in a very dramatic flair.”