Monday, December 6, 2021

Liza Gennaro's "Making Broadway Dance"

Liza Gennaro is Associate Dean and Director of Musical Theatre at The Manhattan School of Music. Gennaro is an accomplished choreographer, elected member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Executive Board, a Tony Voter, and in 2015 she completed a three-year term on the Tony Award Nominating Committee.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Making Broadway Dance, and reported the following:
Page 99 appears in Chapter 4 – Jerome Robbins on Broadway: 1944-1951 – and is a pretty good indicator of what’s in Making Broadway Dance. The page addresses a seminal prompt to my writing the book. Thinking back to my early research I remember that as I read through reviews of mid-twentieth century musicals I was struck by how often critics reported that choreography was the most successful part of a show. That discovery flew in the face of most musical theatre history writing which focuses on book, lyrics and score and became a central recognition for my investigations. The page also demonstrates my prodding and unpacking of what musical theatre choreographers say about their work. As purveyors of commercial art, when asked about their dances by reporters who often don’t know anything about dance they mostly offered quick sometimes glib responses. My extensive knowledge of musical theatre dance allowed me to read between the lines and expound on what they were saying. Page 99 also aids in establishing intellectual practice in developing musical theatre dances as well as the emotional stress that choreographers across dance genres experience in a medium in which the human body, which includes a brain and opinions, is the vehicle for expression.

My goal in writing the book has been to legitimize musical theatre dance as a unique dance form within the practice of stage choreography. Page 99 offers a glimpse of that goal.
Learn more about Making Broadway Dance at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue