Category — Dance
How Jeff Calhoun stays connected to his hit show
On a hit Broadway show, a director’s job is never quite done. Working with a team of associate directors and stage managers, directors must keep tabs on their long-running productions to make sure their artistic visions are still being honored. They might guide a new cast member, tweak a scene, or even overhaul a moment altogether, all in the name of keeping the material fresh.
That’s why Jeff Calhoun is still thinking about Newsies, the Disney musical he directed that opened at the Nederlander Theater in March 2012. “It’ll never be over as long as it’s running,” he says. “It’s like you’re a parent and you have children: They may go to college, but that phone is still going to ring in the middle of the night.”
Based on the early 90s film musical, this story of New York City newspaper boys going on strike has been popular enough to outlast most of its original cast. That means a new crop of performers needs to be directed.
May 6, 2013 No Comments
Inside the Choreography of “Here Lies Love”
Choreographer Annie-B Parson, who founded Big Dance Theater in New York City, creates with a post-modern style all her own, and while she was influenced by dance giants like Merce Cunningham, she was also inspired by another giant from the world of pop music. “I’ve always been a huge fan of David Byrne’s gigantic, imaginative powers and omnivorous appetite,” she says. “When I was at Connecticut College and first heard his music, I was enamored by his particular aesthetic of detachment, a blend of nobility and paranoia that thrilled me. When I went to his concerts, his music totally rocked. Everything was factual and functional with a sense of being what it was, not an illusion. And, the way he danced, with a fantastic, detached quality in terms of how his limbs related to his torso with a separate grace. In my young mind, this was it.”
As fate would have it, admiration led to collaboration. Parson eventually choreographed two of Byrne’s world tours, and now, she’s choreographing Here Lies Love, a musical based on Filipina First Lady Imelda Marco’s life that is playing at the Public Theater.
April 26, 2013 No Comments
Inside the casting for Broadway’s “Motown The Musical”
Casting a Broadway show is never easy, but finding the right actors for Motown: the Musical was especially daunting.
After all, the stars of the show not only have to sing and dance, but also have to capture the essence of R&B legends like Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. Since millions of people love these entertainers—not to mention the music they made for the Motown label—audiences will know if the Broadway performances are inauthentic.
To up the ante even more, Berry Gordy, the legendary producer and Motown founder, is heavily involved with the musical, which follows the story of his label and the people who made it succeed. Gordy wrote Motown‘s book and serves as a lead producer, and when it came to casting decisions, he had the final say.
April 8, 2013 1 Comment
Inside the horror musical “The House of Von Macramé”
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You might think that a musical billed as a “pop horror fashion show” would require a fair amount of research. But for playwright Joshua Conkel, whose The House of Von Macramé runs at the Bushwick Starr through Feb. 9, writing came fairly instinctually.
“I was a latchkey kid,” he explains. “Every day after school I’d go to the video store and rent a different movie.” When Conkel ran out of typical fair like Friday the 13th he turned to European horror movies. In particular, Suspiria and other Italian giallos, or hrillers. “There’s always a black-gloved killer and maybe a supernatural element. These movies are always super stylish and glamorous.”
In Conkel’s The House of Von Macramé, which features spooky synth music by Matt Marks, we meet Britt, a young aspiring model who comes to New York City and gets swept under the wing of Edsel Von Macramé, an eccentric fashion designer. “She begins to have psychic visions of other models being murdered,” says Conkel, “and she begins to suspect that Edsel may be a part of this.”
February 1, 2013 No Comments
Japan’s Eiko and Koma bring their installation dance-art to Manhattan
If you’re visiting the MoMA this week, then you’ll undoubtedly encounter a living installation on wheels, parked in the museum’s lobby. Inside the open doors of a worn caravan, dancers Eiko and Koma move through a world of color, texture, and decay for all eight hours of museum admission.
The Caravan Project is part of MoMA’s exhibition Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde, which is presented through late February. A collection of work from Japanese artists, selected by curator Doryun Chong, the exhibit represents an era of visual art that greatly shifted Japanese culture.
Eiko and Koma, who both grew up in Tokyo at the time, are the product of many of those artists’ work.
“It was our parents’ generation making art,” Eiko says. “As a teenager you are very influenced by those people.”
January 15, 2013 2 Comments