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How dancers can keep up with the evolution of Broadway choreography

In part three of this series, Chita Rivera, Andy Blankenbuehler, Wayne Cilento and more explore the training of today’s dancers.

The original Broadway company of “Moulin Rouge!” (Credit: Matthew Murphy)

Though the use of choreography on Broadway has fluctuated and choreographic styles have transformed and expanded, there has also been an overall shift for dancers over time. In fact, perhaps the greatest difference in the state of movement on the Main Stem — in the opinion of these artists — is not the choreography but how dancers are performing it.

There’s a fine line between executing steps at a high level and expressing meaning. “A lot of dancers are still unfortunately learning vocabulary,” said three-time Tony Award-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler. “They don’t learn how integral humanity is in choreography, and not everybody has that aptitude.”

“Some [dancers] are physical people and some are intellectual-physical people,” he continued. “It’s kind of hard to teach that.”

Difficult, but not impossible. The classroom is the best place to learn technique and vocabulary, while the rehearsal room is where dancers cultivate interpretational skill.

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