Ever since Agnes de Mille’s original choreography for Oklahoma! debuted in 1943, the dream ballet has become a staple storytelling device of musical theatre. As happened with “Laurey Makes Up Her Mind,” better known as the Dream Ballet of the Rodgers and Hammerstein show, singing and dialogue halt as dance leads the narrative—but in a dream state.
Laurey’s dream ballet is an actual dream when she’s asleep, as her subconscious struggles with her decision between Curley and Judd as her companion to the Box Social. But routines like “Somewhere” from West Side Story, or the dream interlude in “Dance at the Gym,” occur in a sort of alternate reality—not a dream whilst asleep but a dream in the sense the time is suspended and location becomes hazy.
Here, we celebrate eight dream ballets every Broadway fan should know.