I had the most amazing time watching the Dance Lab New York Broadway Choreography Intensive showcase this afternoon.
As I’ve written previously, I love the mission of the Dance Lab and its focus — not just on dance or musical theatre but on the art form of choreography itself.
The 14 choreographers in this year’s summer intensive each presented a piece of work centered on one of five themes: storytelling, staging, relationships, opposition, or props. The showcase is as much about the process of choreography as it is about the final presentation. After each piece, the choreographers received feedback, and we — the audience — get to see how they refine, experiment with, and iterate on a piece of choreography.
Some of my favorite moments:
Sam Lobel‘s work in opposition. I love the initial scene, where Sam set up the characters, their motives, and the entire world around them within 10 seconds — with a few well-placed gestures and a simple pen drop. A couple was setting another couple up for a blind date. The choreo then went on to simultaneously explore the bond within each couple and the tension between the couples. #samlobelchoreography
p.s. I also enjoyed watching Sam and Josh Prince experiment with the choreography to shift the focus from one couple to the interplay between the couples.
Julia Kane‘s work in storytelling. She was given Hansel and Gretel as the story. I love how her choreography has a great range of tempo — that speeds up and slows down to emphasize key moments in the story, and to keep the audience engaged. I like how she experimented with an imaginary witch. More generally, I love her signature free-flowing expansive jazz-style movements.
p.s. Check out Julia’s presentation of Cultivated Chaos next weekend! More info at Julia Kane Dance Collective #JKDChaos #CultivatedChaos
Katherine McClintic‘s work in relationships. I love Katherine’s story of the oppressed workers vs. the free spirit. I love her movement style; her use of the six dancers as a group to create repetitions and draw sharp contrasts; the initial scene; the buildup of tension; and the grand finale where she left the audience with a sense of great loss — all of which took place in the span of just a single song. Wow!
p.s. I also enjoyed watching Katherine and Josh explore alternate endings. With simple arm movements, the tone shifted from sadness, to abandonment, to loss.
p.p.s. Bravos to Julia Kane for her lovely dancing as the free spirit!
p.p.p.s. This piece reminded me of one of my favorite choreographies of all time, “The Word” by Paul Taylor.
Rachel Goldman‘s work in relationships. I love the clarity of her storytelling. In a single song and without any words or props, Rachel told the entire life story of a woman who quietly falls in love with a man, except the man is in love with and about to marry the woman’s own sister. I love the layers of emotions, the depth of the characters, and most importantly how Rachel made the characters believable and relatable to the audience.
Finally, Lauren Cunningham’s work in staging. I especially like her portrayal of the three ex-girlfriends as robots, and her giving them distinct movement vocabulary to showcase their emotions, anger, and madness. Great job!
One more memorable moment: Josh asking the choreographers how they would respond if a “difficult” and presumably famous actress refuses follow the choreography?!