Interview: Miriam Nelson (Disneyland opening day choreographer)

Legendary dancer/choreographer Miriam Nelson
Legendary dancer/choreographer Miriam Nelson

Miriam Nelson was a legendary dancer/choreographer, working on numerous classic movies and television shows. She worked in Hollywood, Las Vegas, and on Broadway, and her work, and even choreographed a number for the Academy Awards. Miriam choreographed various shows for Disneyland over the years, including many of the dances on the televised opening day of Disneyland.


2:07 Enjoyed working with Ingrid Berman in “The Cactus Flower”; Taught Bette Davis the Can-Can; Worked on Art Linkletter’s Hollywood Talent Scouts; Choreographing “The Jolson Story” and doubling for Evelyn Keyes in the movie

8:08 Miriam was involved in the development of the traveling arena show Disney on Parade

12:17 Choreographing the live televised opening day of Disneyland; Producer Sherman Marks asked Miriam to choreograph a cast of hundreds; Choreographed the Davy Crockett number in Frontierland; Had to run from land to land for the opening; The same dancers were used in the various lands;

15:17 Dancers once got lost backstage during the Disneyland opening day event; Surprised when an unexpected number of kids entered Fantasyland; A small boy dancer was supposed to dance and was nowhere to be found; In Frontierland, Miriam was surprised when the ground was not paved as it was supposed to be

19:41 Miriam choreographed a lot of shows in Tomorrowland in following years; A note from Walt Disney; Directors were very frustrated and threatened to walk out; Was put up in a motel the night before the live broadcast