Dancing ‘Til Your Feet Hurt
"Adventurous theater in Astoria"

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Dancing ‘Til Your Feet Hurt

With Allegro in full swing, we wanted to share some more perspectives from our creative team. From the first meeting, it was clear with this show that dance would play an important role in this production. With this large dance show, it seems most appropriate to spend time hearing from Choreographer, Christine O’Grady.

I’m so happy to be back at APAC for my fifth musical. Since Tom selected Allegro, we have been excited to finally do a musical together with so much dancing in it. And there is: So. Much. Dancing. At the end of rehearsal every night, my feet hurt in the best possible way, and in the morning I can’t wait to get up and get right back on them.

This show has required more pre-production work than any other I’ve choreographed, but I love the challenge. In addition to the movement the traditional musical numbers call for, there are also three extended dance sequences. So far we’ve taught two.

The first is “Children’s Dance”, during which we meet Joe Taylor as a child, see him interact with his family and the community—and court his childhood sweetheart, Jennie Brinker. Christopher and Fiona, the children that play Young Joe and Young Jennie, are such naturals. They are the glue that holds together this five-minute dance, and I can’t take my eyes off of them.

The next big dance scene is the “Freshmen Get Together”, when an 18-year-old Joe finds himself a fish out of water among his peers who are much better dancers than he. Here, we see college students performing the dance crazes of the 1920s (The Turkey Trot, Charleston, Bunny Hug and Toddle), while Joe struggles to remember “one foot, other foot.” This dance required the most research, but we’ve had a blast putting it together—the 20s dances are so fun.

We have one more big one to teach—arguably the biggest: the title song “Allegro.” My Associate Choreographer, Julianne Katz, and I have been spending a few hours a day finalizing the routines and traffic patterns for this one, which we’ll be teaching over the course of 6 hours next week. During “Allegro” we will see the emotional and psychological toll that the pace and style of city life has taken on adult Joe Taylor and his two friends, Emily and Charlie. Routed in ballet and jazz, this dance takes its cue from the lyrics and is “Brisk! Lively, merry, and bright!”

When we were all first getting started on this project back in August, I had a feeling that we were going to want a lot of space for long, sweeping dance passes across the floor filled with chasés, jumps, and turns; and Stephen Dobay, our set designer, has incorporated a wide-open space that is a choreographer’s dream. It’s a thrill to see the dancers really travel across the floor with ease. Sometimes an audience member might even feel a breeze as they go by!

Agnes DeMille, the original director/choreographer of Allegro (but best known for her work on Oklahoma! and Carousel), has always been lauded for the narratives in her dance, and I have been working hard to honor that legacy. Though we might have slightly different through-lines, Tom and I are so excited about how each dance advances the plot and teaches us something new about our story’s leading man, Joe Taylor.

We just had our work through of Act One last night, and I can’t believe how much the ensemble has learned and retained so far! My work would be nothing without them, and I am so grateful for their dedication, training, and hard work. I’m sure their feet hurt just as much as mine!

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