What does a choreographers job really consist of?
Staging a number – big or small , yes of course. Making scene changes look elegant and fluid – you bet. Ask me to stage a curtain call and you’ll probably find me cowering under the nearest table waving a white flag in surrender.
Years ago whilst in the first week of 42nd Street rehearsals one of the leading actors came up to me during a tea break and with 100% sincerity said “Andrew, this show is about the dancers – it celebrates the often thankless task of being in the ensemble. They are magnificent, you must absolutely give them the final bow”.
Their words stayed with me, how generous I thought and how totally wonderful it would be, for once, to give the hard working ensemble the final bow. Cut forward four weeks to the D day (dreaded day) when I was due to choreograph the finale and it couldn’t have been a more different story! I was busy giving everyone their allotted counts to come and reap their individual applause when I noticed said leading actor looking less than happy that their suggestion may actually become an ungodly reality!
I called a break as I could sense unhappiness within the troops! As I turned around I was confronted about the order and reminded the unhappy party that it was indeed their suggestion, their warmth and their generosity that gave me the strength to try it. How foolish I was.
Ten minutes later the ensemble were sadly back to taking the first bow……..
I took great heart in the fact this brilliant group of dancers got a thunderous cheer nightly, after all without them the show had no backbone and no pulsing heartbeat. I always welcome the reviews for my productions that rave about the ensemble. I take great care in casting the right dancers, when you get it correct the result can be electric. As an aged walloper myself I know only too well what dancers go through and how often their work can be over looked.
Now I am older and hopefully a little more wiser I may try my strategy once again and give the hoofers the final bow they so richly deserve. In the meantime if I appear absent in the rehearsal room may I suggest checking under all of the tables just incase.