For decades, Broadway and ballet have shared a bloodline, if not exactly a blessed marriage. And a select number of ballet choreographers from George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, and Jerome Robbins onward have gained fame and felt equally at home on the Great White Way and on the ballet stage. But the recent artistic and box office success of the Tony Award–winning An American in Paris, choreographed by ballet’s prolific whiz kid, Christopher Wheeldon, has many wondering if Broadway has embraced a new type of musical essentially driven by ballet as a theatrical tool.
Think about the last time you saw a professional Broadway musical or dance concert. Did images appear and disappear right before your eyes? Not quite scenery, not exactly lighting, but pictures? Did they float and twist around as if by magic? Did these images transport you effortlessly from scene to scene?
“I can’t dance.”
I get that disclaimer all the time, from nervous actors and singers trying their best to discourage me from putting them into dance sequences. It is, itself, a little dance. I enjoy it, but it doesn’t work on me. They’ll be dancing soon.