For Monique Coleman & Corbin Bleu, 'A Christmas Dance Reunion' Was Nothing Like 'High School Musical'

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For Monique Coleman & Corbin Bleu, 'A Christmas Dance Reunion' Was Nothing Like 'High School Musical'

It's been 13 years since Monique Coleman and Corbin Bleu last shared the screen in High School Musical 3. And on Friday, Dec. 3, the pair will reunite in the Lifetime Christmas movie, A Christmas Dance Reunion, as former dance partners-turned-a-little-something more, marking a milestone of 15-plus years of a friendship that has truly come full circle.

The pair is aware this movie is an anniversary for fans, as well, who have followed their journey from Disney to dancing. With their time in HSM as supporting characters, they point out that their fans were never able to see this relationship fully evolve, but now that they have time, experience, and almost two decades of friendship on their resumes, it’s able to blossom in ways it never could have before.

“Getting a chance to play this romantic relationship and having the chemistry that we’ve built over our 15-plus year relationship has made it so comfortable and so easy,” Bleu tells The Dipp over Zoom ahead of the premiere. “There’s a whole layer of eggshells that you have to walk across sometimes when you’re dealing with the on-screen romance, and we had none of that.”

“It was just completely safe," Coleman agrees. "And when you feel safe, you feel like you can fly.” The actress shares that their experiences together, before this reunion, allowed them to get over performance anxiety and the stress of "being good." "As you get older, that [feeling] subsides and is replaced with this pursuit of excellence, but without the pressure of self-critical self-judgement."

But that wasn't always the case. When the two first met in 2005 during the filming of High School Musical, they were plagued with the anxieties of their performances in their first scene together. ("We're not Charlie's Angels," they both recall at the same time.)

"I remember going up to Kenny [Ortega, the director] asking, 'Did we get it? Is it OK?'" Bleu recalls of filming their first scene, wanting to be the absolute best performer he could be. But now, he's not so concerned about getting it right, "It's about our well-being as humans."

"It's like, 'Are you OK? Are your feet OK? Are you hungry?" Coleman says, finishing Bleu's thought.

The two actors are so in sync on the Zoom that they often finish each other's sentences. That's what a friendship for 15-plus years will do. They're so incredibly aware of the other's emotional well-being, however, that as an outsider looking in, you can't help but feel intrusive.

The two have been through a lot together, and the filming of this movie is no different. While they were filming A Christmas Dance Reunion in Canada, the United States was going through one of the most anticipated and anxiety-driven election cycles in recent history and a ravishing pandemic. Meanwhile, more locally, Coleman was dealing with her own loss.

"I had just had a miscarriage, like two weeks before we showed up on set ... That could have been one of the loneliest and most difficult experiences of my life," she shares. But instead, she was able to find comfort and solace in having her friend of almost two decades by her side. Along with Sasha, Bleu's wife, the three honored Coleman's lost child by lighting a candle and being there for one another. "We always operated as a tight knit unit, making sure that we were protected and that our well-being always came first."

This protection and genuine bond is so strong that it dances its way onto the screen, making the movie, and its final dance sequence, stronger because of it. Their chemistry may be obvious throughout the film, but the two truly sparkle when dancing together; it is obvious they are doing something they love with people they love doing it with.

Coleman relives the experience, saying, “I think back to times in my life where I missed the moment; where I wasn't really aware of how special it was ... In this instance, every single moment was so intentional to dance it like I'm never going to get to dance it again and to really just leave it all out there." Let's just hope they don't leave all of it on the dance floor — we can't wait another 13 years for a reunion.

Images: Lifetime

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