13 Choreographers Choose Their Favorite Broadway Routines

Lists   13 Choreographers Choose Their Favorite Broadway Routines
 
Susan Stroman, Graciela Daniele, Camille A. Brown, and more name the musical theatre numbers that inspired them.
Baayork Lee, Donna McKechnie, and Margo Sappington
Baayork Lee, Donna McKechnie, and Margo Sappington in Promises, Promises

In celebration of all things theatre dance, we asked some of today’s top choreographers to share their favorite Broadway numbers they didn’t choreograph. As in all art forms, what comes before you, certainly inspires you. See below for the routines they chose and see if you can connect the dots to their own choreography.

Spencer Liff (Head Over Heels, Falsettos) selects
“Slap That Bass” from Crazy for You choreographed by Susan Stroman
Watch it here.
“Sitting in the theatre as a young boy watching Crazy for You was a life-changing moment for me, particularly the inventive choreography in ‘Slap That Bass.’ Holding a piece of rope vertically in front of themselves, the girls were transformed into an upright bass. A simple prop, and the brilliant mind of Stroman created an iconic moment that I still remember 25 years later. I’ve always loved incorporating props into my own choreo, and know I was heavily influenced by Crazy for You and working with Stroman early in my career in Big.”

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Susan Stroman Marc J. Franklin

Susan Stroman (Tony winner for The Producers, Contact, Show Boat, Crazy For You) selects
“Dance at the Gym” from West Side Story choreographed by Jerome Robbins
Watch it here.
“This is a brilliant piece of musical theatre choreography not only because of its intricate dance steps, but because of its storytelling. Rival gangs compete on the dance floor with a high energy ‘Can you top this?’ kind of partnering. The movement is acrobatic, fast-paced, and has ample opportunity for the dancers to really act. And cradled within this aggressive and palpable movement is the love-at-first-sight beat between the two star-crossed leads. Their dance is innocent and respectful and, ultimately, their moves propel the plot forward into the tensions and the tragic events of the rival gangs. It’s a choreographer’s dream to deliver a specialized, choreographed number that also pushes the plot forward and enhances the story. ‘Dance at The Gym’ is a masterpiece.”

JoAnn M. Hunter (Disaster!, School of Rock) selects
“The Charleston” from High Button Shoes choreographed by Jerome Robbins
“I believe this piece is so brilliant. Jerry took so many characters during the time of Prohibition and transported his audience into the world of the late 1920s so they could follow each character’s journey. Style, humor, storytelling!”

Jenn Weber (K-POP) selects “Uninvited” from Jagged Little Pill choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
“I love choreography that tells a story so clearly and emotionally that you can't imagine any other way that piece of the narrative could be communicated. The visual language in this scene is the perfect marriage of style and substance. “

Casey Nicholaw (Tony nominee for Mean Girls, Something Rotten!, Aladdin, The Drowsy Chaperone, Spamalot) selects
“Turkey Lurkey Time” from Promises, Promises choreographed by Michael Bennett
Watch it here.
“It’s simple, full of style and joy, and builds perfectly! Heaven.”

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Garth Fagan Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Garth Fagan (Tony winner for The Lion King) selects
“Dance at the Gym” from West Side Story choreographed by Jerome Robbins
“The male athleticism, balloon, tumbling, air turns, the polyrhythms of The Sharks (male and female), and of course, the sensational, sublime, spectacular Rita Moreno. It influenced me in the use of polyrhythms, strong male dancers, and passion in the execution of the movement, musicianship and storyline—plus Rita Moreno!”

Warren Carlyle (Tony winner for After Midnight) selects
“Favorite Son” from The Will Rogers Follies choreographed by Tommy Tune
Watch it here.
“The most influential dance number I recall was seeing my first Broadway show, Will Rogers Follies. ’Favorite Son’…the originality of the idea, the incredible style with which the idea was expressed, and the use of the costumes and music to bring it all together. Tommy Tune has remained a source of inspiration for me over my career.”

Graciela Daniele (Tony nominee for Ragtime, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, The Goodbye Girl, Once On This Island, Dangerous Games, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Rink, The Pirates of Penzance) selects
West Side Story choreographed by Jerome Robbins
Watch Robbins highlights here.
“I can’t choose a ‘routine’ because choreography for me is much more than a series of interesting steps. So, because Jerome Robbins has been and will always be my icon, I’d have to say that every choreographed moment in West Side Story is not only brilliant choreography but, what I believe is necessary in musical theatre, keeps on telling the story.”

Lorin Latarro (Waitress, upcoming Mrs. Doubtfire, Almost Famous) selects
“Sing Sing Sing” from Dancin’ choreographed by Bob Fosse
Watch it here.
“The sheer force and musicality of the 1978 version is thrilling. The choreography builds to a perfect peak and offers dancers the opportunity to dance with abandon and passion. ”

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Sergio Trujillo Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Sergio Trujillo (Tony winner for Ain’t Too Proud) selects
“Sing Sing Sing” from Fosse, originally choreographed by Bob Fosse and choreographed by Ann Reinking and Chet Walker
“It is my ultimate, favorite song. It reminds me of swing dance, and that is my jam. Not only do I love the music, but I got to dance Fosse's choreography. The combination of having the band on stage, and dancing alongside colleagues like Andy Blankenbuehler, Desmond Richardson, and Valarie Pettiford made it one of the most memorable dance moments in my career.”

Sam Pinkleton (Tony nominee for The Great Comet) selects
“Poor Little Person” from Henry Sweet Henry choreographed by Michael Bennett, and “Favorite Son” from The Will Rogers Follies choreographed by Tommy Tune
Watch “Poor Little Person” here.
“It's a toss up! ‘Poor Little Person’ because it is so totally simple, joyous, absurd—everybody in it is doing the most, and it so totally knows that it's a big musical number; it all comes bursting out of the heart of Alice Playten and is radically committed to a very simple setup. Plus, some of the moves look good because of the socks. Also, Baayork Lee! ‘Favorite Son’ is the most simple and, therefore, also the most virtuosic. Tommy Tune's trust in that is mindblowing. It's pure musical theatere fascism, and every time I see it, I think...how dare them.”

Camille A. Brown (Tony nominee for Choir Boy) selects
“Pennsylvania Graveyard Shuffle” from Shuffle Along… choreographed by Savion Glover
Watch a selection from the show here.
“Savion Glover’s choreography for Shuffle Along was masterful in every way. He put together a dance version of the 11 o’clock number. It packed a powerful punch of funk, history, groove, precision, and black excellence at its finest.”

Rob Ashford (Tony winner for Thoroughly Modern Millie; currently Frozen on Broadway) selects
“We’ll Take Glass Together” from Grand Hotel choreographed by Tommy Tune
Watch it here.
“I love the way Tommy Tune used the ensemble to provide the energy of the world while allowing us to focus on the story being told by the two principals at the ‘suggested’ bar. And, of course, the genius of Tune to capture the joyous abandon of the rubber-legged Michael Jeter, a dying man with nothing to lose. It’s such a wonderful lesson in building an entertaining number while moving the story forward!”

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