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Musical Theatre Essay

1106 words - 5 pages

The use of choreography and music in a musical is not only entertaining, but can illustrate the social issues present in
society. Dance in musical theatre has changed dramatically. Until 1936 dance was used as a diversion from the story
line. Agnes DeMille was the first notable female choreographer to use dance as a major plot device and central role in
as musical. Since then choreographers such as Bob Fosse, Gower Champion and Jerome Robbins use dance to portray
symbolism and add depth to the music and the lyrics (Miller, G 2014). Furthermore, Dr Larry A. Brown states "The
addition of music to a standard play heightens emotion, reinforces the dramatic action, evokes atmosphere and mood ...view middle of the document...

example; cartwheeling whilst putting clothes into a basket, strapping a mop to a smaller orphan and cleaning the
floor, mocking Mrs. Hannigan. Consequently this shows the desperation the orphans are feeling to do something
entertaining. When they are dancing in unison during the chorus, their frustration and anger is shown through the
steps, using sharp movements such as stamping and kicking (PBS Video. 2014). During the second chorus, levels are
used to further demonstrate how Annie is leading the other orphans. Annie stands on an upside down bucket while
the other orphans are either doing the combination in the middle level or on the ground (Youtube, 2014). The
choreography enhances the meaning behind the song as they sing about how their life is hard. The use of dance
improves the essence of the musical number and portrays how disadvantaged they are.

The Broadway musical Wicked portrays the themes of friendship and the social issue of bullying. Elphaba is born with
green skin and constantly bullied, Galinda is born popular and privileged and their unlikely friendship begins during
the musical number 'Dancing Through Life'. As Elphaba enters the room, the group collectively moves away from her;
a common form of bullying. Although it is a simple piece of choreography, it is a powerful symbolic gesture
demonstrating how Elphaba is isolated from everyone. Therefore, while Elphaba is attempting to demonstrate that
she isn't bothered by what others think, she commences to do what is known as 'The Elphaba Dance' (Youtube, 2014)
which is strange and unlike how others are dancing. Her upper body and arms are stiff whereas, when the other
students dance, they release their upper body causing the steps to flow with more ease. The dance is showing how
she differs from the group and how she doesn't fit in. When Galinda and the other students join her, the friendship
between Elphaba and Galinda begins and Elphaba is subsumed.

The movie musical Hairspray is set in Baltimore during 1962; towards the start of the Civil Rights Movement in
America. It is a musical comedy centred around the social issue of racism. The choreography used is ethnically clichéd
to help portray the characters and symbolically shows how they are different to one another. In the musical number
'New Girl In Town' when Amber, Cassandra and...

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