Dance and Choreography

Zachary Dorsey

in The Oxford Handbook of The American Musical

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780195385946
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Dance and Choreography

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The article provides information on the methodology for analyzing dance in musical theater performance. Dance is sometimes defined as any patterned, rhythmic movement in space and time. Dance occurs through purposefully selected and controlled rhythmic movements and the resulting phenomenon is recognized as dance both by the performer and the observing members of a given group. Dance analysis intersects with the work of dance reviewers and critics, though it culminates in the formulation of one or more arguments or interpretations, and ultimately stops short of evaluating a dance. Dance analysis requires that the meanings made out of musical theater choreography is not independent from the dance itself but rather, firmly grounded in the specifics of the dance and the context of the musical that it comes from. Dance analysis deepens the understanding of the role of the dancing body within musical theater and can help speak to social ideas and themes prompted by the musical. The dances in musical theater are almost always performed by characters whom the audience has met, and such details become vital to understanding the choreography's relationship to the musical as a whole. The steps of dance analysis involve description, an extensive series of observations made by the viewer about the dance itself and then putting these observations into conversation with one another.

Keywords: rhythmic movement; choreography; American musical; dance analysis; musical theater; dance reviewers; All That Jazz

Article.  7315 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Musicology and Music History

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