Glee’s Zach Woodlee on beautiful imperfection


Earlier in the year I had a chance to interview Glee choreographer Zach Woodlee. We ended up having a really interesting discussion about “imperfect perfection” – something Zach is really passionate about.

“It’s OK that your legs don’t go up to your ears and you can’t stay on your good leg when you’re turning. I just love watching people dance.”

He says that working on Glee and The Glee Project is a totally different beast to working with professionally trained dancers – he’s previously worked toured with Madonna, and on movies including 27 Dresses and Hairspray – because Glee helps him remember all the reasons he wanted to dance in the first place.

“It’s really opened me up to a whole other part of dancing. When you spend your life in a dance studio, in front of a mirror, working on perfection and improvement, that becomes what you do. My appreciation for trained dancers is, of course, outstanding, I think it’s a wonderful, wonderful art to get into. But then being put in this position, I think it’s really taught me about, or re-taught me about, why people dance. The joy in it.”

It seemed obvious that the beauty of imperfection was his new driving force. We talked for a while about how Glee was freeing teenagers from restricting ideas about who they should be. I was really touched by his attitude – I felt like he wasn’t just talking about teenagers, but a principle that could be applied to anyone: Accept and love yourself, and know you’re perfect, just as you are.

“I feel like you can watch your favourite character [on Glee] and be it that they’re disabled, or overweight, or maybe not the prettiest or anything, but they still have permission to perform and they have permission to be themselves, and they work within a group. As a younger adult, it would make me definitely think ‘ok, this is ok, and I know that there’s a group of people out there that can accept me for this and love me’.”

He went on to talk about how Cory Monteith, who plays lead Finn Hudson, may not be the best dancer, but that’s not a weakness.

“We know that Cory is not our best dancer, but there’s a difference because you don’t feel embarrassed for him, you actually endear to the character.”

And surely that’s something we can all afford to learn – your weaknesses are endearing, not embarrassing.

Zach seems like a great guy and I have a lot of respect for the team behind Glee. They don’t always get it right, but you know what? That’s probably kind of perfect.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore