On June 9th at 10:30am, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was the host for the Pre-Press Preview (behind-the-scenes workshop) of Born to Dance, the new dance-based Broadway musical by Broadway veteran Daniel C. Levine (Guys & Dolls, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, also the Artistic Director for the Ridgefield Playhouse Broadway & Cabaret Series).
The show, created in partnership with Oscar, Grammy, and Tony-Award Winning composer Stephen Schwartz, debuted in October 2016 exclusively aboard Princess Cruises. Born to Dance depicts the “unsung heroes” of Broadway, and Daniel C. Levine signifies how the show is a “love letter to the Broadway Dancer”. The event had the essence of a globe rotating on its axis; delightful stillness in the center with a quiet exciting hum all around.
The sensational, stimulating and wave-like choreography (by So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Al Blackstone) features the most iconic dance moments in Broadway history from the forever imprinted work by dance legends Agnes De Mille, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins as well as countless other note-worthy Broadway choreographers. Born to Dance is an extraordinary gift for any audience, and shows fans of Broadway and dance how dance has grown over the decades. The stunning dance routines are supported by beautiful musical direction of Bryan Perri, who is currently the conductor and music director of Broadway’s Wicked.
In experiencing a sneak preview of the show, I was in awe of the fluidity and attention-grabbing energy that the dancer’s exuded through true show-stopper and jaw-dropper dance numbers. Al Blackstone’s work in Born to Dance is nothing short of impactful. Another piece of excitement that audiences can indulge in with Born to Dance are the positively “suggestive” costumes that fifteen-time Tony Award Winning Costume Designer William Ivey Long describes as a “participatory audience experience”.
Mr. Long reveals that “(there are) one-hundred and eighteen costume pieces. But they are pieces, you know, like a good move-it’s suggestive. The mind, the viewer’s mind, completes the image and because you all know these classic great musicals, you are a participant and by not completing the image, we get you more involved in watching what you are seeing.” William Ivey Long is currently represented on Broadway with Chicago, as well as Disaster! The Musical, which was co-written by musical extraordinaire Seth Rudetsky. Seth Rudetsky is the star of his hand-made show Deconstructing Broadway, in which he musically breaks down Broadway’s iconic musical moments with educational and comedic flare.
I also had the chance to chat with triple threat legend Rachelle Rak (Fosse, A Chorus Line, Trip of Love) who is featured in the show: “I’m so excited because the show can connect people; the people who went on Princess Cruise who saw the show might recommend it to their friend or might even see it with their loved one when they get back home! It can bring new people to the theatre and it can be the start of a whole new generation of people coming to the theatre.” Stephen Schwartz also expressed excitement about the new project, “…Adrian Fischer approached me and said, ‘We really want to raise the level of entertainment on Princess Cruiselines? Would you be interested in a partnership with us?’. You might have ideas that we wouldn’t come across otherwise’. I just thought it was a great idea.”
While speaking with the rightly-proclaimed theatre royalty, they each imparted a one word description of the show:
Daniel C. Levine: “Emotional.”
Bryan Perri: “Completely Inspiring.”
Rachelle Rak: “Nostalgic.”
Al Blackstone: “Alive.”
Stephen Schwartz: “Thrilling.”
I can’t wait to see what other surprises the show has in store for its audiences across the seas as well as its audiences on the solid ground of New York City. Born to Dance is a thumbs up!
-Alexa Christina Politis (@risingstarxoxo)