What I learned about dance storytelling, I learned from watching Agnes de Mille’s beautiful ballets in movies like Oklahoma and Carousel. It was new way of approaching the work that had an indelible effect on me as young choreographer. It gave me a foundation upon which to base my own brand of dance storytelling. I have never seen any of the footage of the de Mille choreography for Brigadoon. I don’t know if any exists. I have no doubt it would have been revolutionary.
In this new version of Brigadoon, I was blessed to be collaborating with Gordon Peirce Schmidt and Katie Spelman to create entirely new dances. These stories are the primary narratives for characters like Jean, Maggie Anderson and Harry Beaton. We spent days and weeks storyboarding the dances before we ever danced a step. Then, we began to create the steps, making sure that all of them were in service of the characters’ stories and arcs.
Dance is such a huge part of Scottish culture. Almost every event has a dance to tell its story: battles, oppression, love, etc. Because it is such a part of their world, it helped us take the choreography away from traditional musical theater dance and find a new vernacular that blends Scottish Country dancing, Highland dances and classical ballet.
I do, however, wish that there were some record of the original Bonnie Jean, which somehow revolves around Maggie Anderson, Harry Beaton and a saucy fishmonger…I chose a different path, but I would have loved to see it!
I hope you enjoy this new take on Brigadoon.
Now through Aug 17, 2014
Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
Music by Frederick Loewe
Revised book by Brian Hill
Directed by Rachel Rockwell