“You’ll have to curb your enthusiasm for Louis Vuitton luggage” claimed my exasperated agent at the idea of becoming a choreographer. “You won’t earn a penny, there’s no stability in it and you’ve left it a tad too late in life darling”.
Secretly, I’ve always rather enjoyed it when people have said “No”. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s in Somerset with a naive desire to dance brought in itself many obstacles. I think I was destined for a road littered with hurdles and obstacles. In these situations you have a choice, you can either decide to hit the wall or alternatively learn to dance on top of it. I most definitely chose the latter.
As a child dance was merely a hobby to me, no ballet exams gained, little real technique learnt, just a passion and a desire to perform and to please. When I should have been studying algebra I built theatres in my garden. I always loved to create, to invent and to play. My mind was full of infinite ideas when it came to theatre, slightly less so when it came to schooling. Instead of catching the rugby ball I clung to the touch line perfecting a time step. No usual childhood pursuits for me, instead I would rope in my friends, design sets from cardboard boxes and beg neighbours to watch a show that I rather gluttonously wrote, directed, choreographed and took the lead in! With hindsight the signs were there from an early age. I remember my career advisor turning ashen at the idea of leaving education early to pursue a career in dance but why not? Why take the easy option when there is a life full of beautiful possibilities ahead. Why not follow your dreams, take a risk and put yourself on the line. I feel there is too much emphasis today on needing a safety net to fall back on, instead of hours working on a plan B why not invest entirely on plan A?!
Even as that young boy performing on that makeshift set to an audience of 20 tolerant neighbours I dreamt that just maybe, one day, I might swap my DIY theatre for the real McCoy, a West End stage. Yes the statistics will tell you that the chances of failure are high, yes it may be an uphill struggle and yes you have to learn to live frugally in order to get there but seeing your name front of house on a London theatre still makes my heart miss a beat. As a teenager I would drag my poor long suffering mother around Theatre Land to gaze longingly at the theatres twinkling marquees. Studying who created each show on the giant posters outside and once again daring to imagine what just might be. I still feel there is something magical about a theatre exterior – a wonderfully inviting facade, luring one inside with all the magical possibilities.
I still remember that lightbulb moment as a child when my parents took me to see Underneath The Arches at the Prince of Wales theatre. I’m sure each of you will have had an experience similar. I sat motionless, riveted and in awe of those dancers up on the stage. They looked so glamorous, so untouchable and so wonderfully unearthly – certainly unlike anything else I had ever seen in deepest Somerset! I knew at that moment I was hooked. I wanted to leap up onto the stage and join them. I longed to smear my face with greasepaint and join their high kicking company. From that point I never looked back in my mission to become a performer and one day a choreographer.
So can you become a choreographer? Sure, why not. This book will hopefully fill you with the same ambition and courage to try it. Many people ask just how and where do you start to choreograph a show? This is indeed an excellent question. Sadly I feel there is no blueprint, no mathematical formula or App that can propel you towards making that acceptance speech at the Olivier Awards! However I do strongly feel there are many ways to guide a budding choreographer/teacher and steer you in the right direction. Whether a professional or fledgling beginner we can all still do with a helping hand from time to time! With a book full of easy to understand dos and don’ts I aspire to mentor you, the next generation of creative talent to find your very own Dancin’ Feet.
I will take you on a choreographic journey of how to stage a musical. Think of this as your departmental store of choreographic requirements! Ground floor the idea, first floor the auditions, second floor the creation, third floor rehearsals and top floor opening night and beyond! I am the John Lewis of choreography – never knowingly undersold!
If Leo Bloom can proudly sing “I want to be a producer” then why don’t you all shout from the highest rooftops “I want to be a choreographer”! Who knows, with the help of this book and a hearty serving of courage it just might happen. Now the only limits are your imagination, it’s your time to take centre stage and shine in that spotlight.
Andrew Wright 3/1/2021