In Blood Brothers I was double casted as Mrs. Johnstone and as an ensemble role as Donna Marie. I will start by saying movement plays a large part in the musical genre. The dance skill level varied in this production. There was clearly two different dance techniques ensemble or pedestrian and a soloist interpretive dancer- that I would describe as modern dance.
The ensemble’s role in dance was more of a pedestrian, “hey I could do this”- type of dance. Its purpose to the musical is to give the audience a “music is life” eavesdropping on the daily happenings of these characters. Movement is an extension of each one of the ensemble characters and this aides in the characterization of these characters. When the audience watches a show they want to experience the show and to experience one must use their five senses. The most common of these senses used typically is seeing and hearing. Therefore the correct expression of movement is very important. In American culture there is more of an emphasis on expression in voice and articulation, but in Asian cultures body language is far more important. Therefore a performer must be highly aware of their voice and movement.
Now let’s look at the specifics. In the first full company number Marilyn Monroe (Mrs. Johnstone and Company) this type of dance is pedestrian and upbeat dance. For Mrs. Johnstone it was important to not let the movement distract from the song because the song was story-like revealing plot and characterization. Learning the dance with the ensemble was trial and error. It took patience and lots of cleaning up in order to get the true vision of the chorographer correct.
In the musical number My Child which included Mrs. Johnstone and Mrs. Lyons, this took time to flawlessly flow acting, song, and dance. The interpretation took time to mold into something real and not just a “cutesy bootsey” number. In Easy Terms – (Mrs. Johnstone and Company) this had a pedestrian feel and it was important to have intention and precise geese like movement. Steps must be the same style and instinct in the ensemble. It is also important to not pull focus from the main character. The ensemble’s purpose is to add visually to the scene, but not distract.
The narrator songs included a soloist dancer. This dancer was significantly more advanced than the other cast members. Her job was to effectively communicate the songs message through movement. She embodied a devil, a gypsy, a girl in love (partner dance), someone left heartbroken. I felt she was extremely successful. She embodied each message through movement and it flowed nicely.
In Kids’ Game – (Linda, Mickey and Ensemble) our purpose was to effectively embody children. This dance was the most exhausting. The thing about kids is they have a never ending energy and this was difficult to replicate. We did several acting activities to prepare for this venture. For example, picking three adjectives the described your child and telling a joke in this character. The dance steps were high energy and it was vital to keep energy flowing.
In Bright New Day – (Mrs. Johnstone and Company) this was also a high energy number. This had to hit with a bang because this ended the first act. It was difficult at first to switch from Mrs. Johnstones part to Donna Maire because that dance and song were equal high energy. Marilyn Monroe 2 I just had to focus being Mrs. Johnstone. The only obstacle I encountered was dancing with different types of people and timing. This also has an average Joe party like feel.
In Miss Jones – (Mr Lyons, Miss Jones and Company) this reminded me of those cute 50’s girl groups dances. It’s all about simple steps instinct with one another. It was important to keep energy up and attitude. We struggled with the ability to dance and sing at the same time. With the help of rehearsal and muscle memory this got problem disappeared.
Light Romance – (Mrs. Johnstone , Linda, Eddie) this was an interesting simple dance interpretation of a flowering love triangle immerging right in front of the audiences very eyes. I thought this was very appropriate and the movement added to the musical number.
I have gained knowledge from these long nights of sweat and tears, during this production process. I have mastered the style and steps involved in this production and have triumphed in-spite of obstacles I have faced.From a sickness a week before opening night, exudative pharyngitis, to frustration to pure exhaustion. In the end it was all worth it. Movement is the silver lining of a musical. It adds a touch of magic to a musical number.