Sunday, October 27, 2013

Broadway & Beyond 2013


“The art of Broadway is American entertainment.  Broadway & Beyond not only brings to light the magic of theater, but the universal scope of dance in America today.”
- Ann Marie DeAngelo

As I was conceiving the show for the Career Transition for Dancers gala 2013, I thought to create a theatrical evening that in and of itself it was a piece of theater - that at the same time promoted different aspects of dance and theater.  Using the character of Agnes deMille as root-thread served as a springboard for the acts of different styles and genres to unfold.  

Chairman Emeritus Cynthia Gregory (below, left) was on hand to introduce Agnes as the first Chairman.   

Cynthia Gregory
Lynn Cohen as Agnes
“...I just had to show up after receiving this great Tony Honor - if it weren’t for me, this organization wouldn’t even exist....” 

The Show started with a we-are-not-ready-to-start-yet-opening number with a fast-paced video projection amalgamation of iconic Broadway, dance and culturally historic moments in time created by VJ Eric Dunlap.  And yes, I am at the center directing everyone to move on specific counts - in awe of Kevin Baron’s flip.  The artists in the number then appeared later in the show.  

This segued into PARALLEL EXIT in their “Tap Lights” piece - a clever pollination of tap and an unexpected light show.

Earlier in the year I went to see a rehearsal for Rosie's Theater Kids for one of their concerts and Rosie O'Donnell was rehearsing "Heart" from Damn Yankees with them.  I asked their Artistic Director, Lori Klinger, if they might be free to perform the piece on our show. You ask, but you never know who is available and willing to perform for a cause. She was and they were great!

 “...I didn’t do Swans - I love Swans, but I don’t do Swans!  Ah Ballet, my first love..."
American Repertory Ballet with the young talents of Karen Moscato and Mattia Pallozzi, performing the Balcony pas de deux from Romeo & Juliet

“At the Ballet” from A Chorus Line - with Christiane Noll, Kelly Bishop and Hollie Howard performing this beautiful song - was dedicated to Marvin Hamlisch.  Marvin so graciously contributed a new song for the 20th Anniversary of CTFD which he played live on stage. I had the good fortune to not only work with him, but also to choreograph to his music.  He was a great lover of dance and dancers.

                                      While Agnes ranted about "What’s new," and how she was amongst the "pioneers who transformed Broadway," she introduced the next three contemporary Broadway choreographers.  The first was a piece by Josh Prince called “The Dog Piece” (I think). I first saw it when he created it for DanceBreak - might have been his first piece, and it hadn’t been done since.  I always thought it was cute and clever and the audience did indeed enjoy it.

Broadway Dance Lab

The premise:  “Imagine if you will that you are walking down the street and you pass pet store - and instead of Dogs in the window there are Men”!

More theater choreographers to come!

Then came a lovely Fred &; Ginger duet by Randy Skinner to Cole Porter’s “Beguine the Beguine” (above).  He is such a marvelous dancer, and was partnered by Sara Brians.  It was the first time we used Tap Mics that hook onto a belt around the waist and connect to the show - sounded great!

On the Town by Josh Bergasse
On the Town by Josh Bergasse

The "Smash" choreographer, Joshua Bergasse, re-created a fun and ambitious number from “On the Town” -- Subway Ride/Dream Coney Island...  -- which was filled with drama and what you expect from Broadway dance.  Stupidly we thought that this complex piece of Bernstein could have been played live by our 16 piece band, conducted by musical director Jim Morgan.  What were we thinking with only one rehearsal?

Fortunately a decent tape was found and all worked beautifully...

Benois de la Danse winner David Dawson contributed his work called “On the Nature of Daylight” with stars of the Semperoper Ballet....Nataliya Sologub and Raphael Coumes-Marque.  A sensitive and stunning work of the highest order, and a highlight of the evening. David is one of the few choreographers today who knows how to use space, i.e. “choreo (steps) orgraphy” (the relationship of steps to space).

Jason Samuels Smith, Jimmy Tate and Dule Hill

A TRIBUTE TO DANNY DANIELS A Class Act  was an excerpt from “The Tap Dance Kid” for which Danny Daniels received a Tony Award.  It was staged by his son DJ Giagni (a past Tony nominee) and a wonder expression of “classic” Tap on the program.  Find Danny Daniels on-line for info about his extensive, prolific, and ground-breaking career -- as both dancer and choreographer!

Jason Samuels Smith, Jimmy Tate and Dule Hill all worked with this legendary choreographer, but at different times:

Dule Hill (left) was a Tap Dance Kid in the original show, and
Jason Samuels Smith (right) worked with Danny Daniels in a brilliant film called Tap Heat.

THE LAST TIME I CRY with singer Orfeh and highly skilled dancer/acrobat performers Francoise Voranger (founder Hybrid Movement Company), Viktor Franyo and Uys duBuisson.  The music was orchestrated by Steven Jamail and conducted by our Musical director Jim Morgan.  The piece was originally a duet that was performed in Moscow in May for the "Benois de la Danse" Gala (having been a choreographer nominee in 2006).  Viktor unexpectedly hurt himself a couple weeks before the show and I had to quickly come up with another interpretation of the song.  Fortunately Uys was free and stepped in making the relationship story have more intensity.

Viktor and Francoise, Uys on Skateboard

Francoise and Uys with Orfeh

Francoise and Viktor
Francoise and Viktor with Orfeh


Other performances came from Jayson "B-Boy Mouse" Vasquez, Noah Racey's New York Song & Dance Company, Andrea McArdle, and more.

Jayson “B-Boy Mouse” Vesquez in a mini-lecture on the 4 elements of Hip Hop (the Beat, the Rhyme, Marking, and the Dance)

An unorthodox Barbershop Quartet with Parallel Exit

Andrea McArdle
Andrea McArdle, the first "Annie" on Broadway, sang “Tomorrow.” It was a beautiful voice and memorable moment.

Noah Racey and his New York Song & Dance company were a great highlight closing the show.

Noah Racey and his New York Song & Dance company


The Rolex Dance Award 2013 went to the legendary Ann-Margret!

.....and the equally legendary Liza Minnelli was on hand to present the prestigious Award to her!


Maya almost got to be in the Opening number (counts and cues to the left for our stellar stage manager Lori Rosecranz-Wekselblatt) but she had a hard time memorizing her entrance and exit...


THANK YOU one and all for coming, and to all the Talent who volunteered their Time and Talents for a cause we all believe in!

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