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The new choreography of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Allegro

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This article investigates John Doyle’s 2014 revival of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s 1947 musical Allegro. Specifically, this discussion considers how the choice to have all actors in a musical play an instrument creates choreographic material that becomes ripe with dramatic opportunities. The discussion explores how Doyle’s move away from dance and towards musicianship as a way of defining character makes Allegro’s themes resonate in a way that escaped director and choreographer Agnes DeMille in the original. Through an analysis of the movements required to play a musical instrument, this article poses the dramaturgical question, how does a new choreography emerge out of the shift of musicianship to the actors, and how does this movement provide a new way of synthesizing the piece? Given that this choreographic substance inevitably becomes part of the dramatic action, this article probes how the production is mediated through the physical. Reckoning with how the body is rethought onstage by the playing of an instrument, the Doyle staging presents alternative modes of expression of choreographic material. Finally, an analysis of the dramatic opportunities that open up when actors take on the orchestration, illustrates how this ‘new choreography’ impacts the form and interpretation of the piece.
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Keywords: choreography; dance; dramaturgy; habitus; musician; orchestra; phenomenology; physicality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Graduate Center, City University of New York

Publication date: December 1, 2015

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