Karla Puno Garcia '07 on Dance Magazine's 2024 “25 to Watch”

Thursday, Jan 4, 2024

Karla Puno Garcia '07 (BFA, Dance). Photo by Laura Irion
Karla Puno Garcia '07 (BFA, Dance). Photo by Laura Irion

Dance Magazine published their annual “25 to Watch” list for 2024, recognizing today's most notable dancers, choreographers, directors, and dance companies. This year, the list features Karla Puno Garcia '07 (BFA, Dance), a musical theater choreographer who arranged the dance number performed by Ariana DeBose and Julianne Hough at the 2023 Tony Awards.

Read more about Garcia below, and see the full list of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch" here.

When last year’s Tony Awards had to go without a script and instead lean on dance to set the scene, host Ariana DeBose knew just the choreographer who could pull it offKarla Puno Garcia. The resulting opening number brought viewers on a danced journey through the United Palace theater, using Garcia’s spunky, sassy movement to amp up excitement for the night. Later, Garcia’s unapologetically feminine flair and super-satisfying musicality showcased DeBose and Julianne Hough in a duet that felt both timely and timeless.

Garcia was the first woman of color to choreograph the Tonys. But it’s far from her only brush with the event. A Broadway vet who’s been dancing on the Great White Way since her college days at New York University, she previously performed with the casts of Gigi and Hamilton at the Tonys and was a dancer and associate choreographer in 2021 when Sergio Trujillo choreographed the opening number. Soon, she may even be up for a Tony herself: She’s making her Broadway choreographic debut this January with Days of Wine and Roses, which she co-choreographed with Trujillo.

For his part, Trujillo thinks she’s “unstoppable” as a choreographer: “Karla’s like a musician that can play all the instruments with her feet and arms and body,” he says. “She comes across as incredibly gentle, but she’s a force to be reckoned with.”