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Dance til Dawn Essay

Jessica Reeve- Track B

Answering the question to this essay, I will explore the stylistic qualities of the
golden age in Hollywood that have had an influence on many of the dance styles
we see in 21st Century Musicals today. I will also compare and contrast using
references from the Musical Dance Till Dawn.
Karen Bruce and Ed Curtis, the writers of Dance til Dawn have set the show
in the 1940s which is the exact era of the Golden Age. Their aim was to
transport their viewers to when Hollywood was at its prime and beauty during
Golden Age. The narrative explores themes such as glamour, fame, love affairs
and murder. Therefore, the choreographers choices of costuming, scenery,
music and the choreography all play huge part in portraying this era.
The choreography shown in Dance til Dawn has been inspired by some of
Hollywoods top pioneers such as Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly. With
the use of partner work in the dances, Ballroom and Latin the choreography
reflects the themes of love and seductively. Men are dressed in smart suits with
braces and brogues, and women in elegant fitted swing skirt dresses and heals,
adding to the features of 1940s fashion.
Bruce and Curtis have specifically chosen to use a live band onstage to
replicate a jazz bar feel typically associated to the Golden Age, instead of using
an orchestra pit. Their song choices where hit songs such as Stand By me,
Whos that Man and Feeling Good.
From watching the dance number Dream of You, from Singing in the rain I
feel it has very similar qualities to the dance number Whos That Man in Dance
til Dawn. Both dance numbers are performed by all female dancers who show
Charleston steps associated with the glamourous Hollywood dancers during the
1940s. For example the use of the legs and arms going forward and backward in
swinging motion as well as large fan kicks. Another similarity is the costuming of
the dancers. All of the females are dressed in beautiful gold, sparkly Charleston
dresses which show of the dancers leg lines. By using this costume it draws the
audiences attention to the intricate footwork. I would also describe the costumes

to be very glamourous and show an elegant upper-class status. The status is also
shown when the dancers perform Dream of you at an upper-class dinner party.

The number Feeling Good is one of Dance till Dawns main numbers where
as an audience member you are totally drawn into the narrative and excitement
of the number. The number is similar to that of Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse and
Gene Kelly because of every movement has an intention behind it and how one
female dancers performs with all the male dancers. It is evident that the males
are mesmerised by this particular dancer in the choreography. The dancers are
dressed in gold, glamourous dresses and men in tuxedos, ties and smart
trousers. Flavia Stands out in a stunning red dress suggesting lust and love. This
is very similar to the dress Cyd Charisse wears in The Band Wagon -performed
during the Golden age. The number starts off with Flavia in a spotlight above
the male dancers. She performs cheeky, slow seductive movements of the arms
and hips attracting the male dancers attention. Flavia then falls off a platform
into their arms, gripping the audience automatically until the pieces final climax.
Each male dancer is seen to try to dance with Flavia, performing small, intricate
partner work sections. As the music becomes more intense the choreography
complements it building a crescendo to the climax of the piece. For example, the
number starts of slow with lyrical type movements, and changed to sharp arm
lines, high kicks -by the females, and chest pumps towards Flavia by the males.
This choreography shows the male attraction Flavia draws to herself. You can see
that the females are in control as the partner work section as well as the overall
choreography is designed to show off the female roles. By the end Flavia ends up
centre stage with all the dancer surrounding and looking at her. Overall I feel
that the choreography is very strong as the song and choreography in Feeling
Good has so much dynamic quality.
The number Stuff like that There shows Hollywood in a more glitz and
glamourous way rather than seductive and flirty. This is a contrast to the
previous number Feeling good. Lana is dressed in a long coat with a fur collar
then reveals herself in very glamourous purple dress. The ensemble are dressed
in gold fringe dresses. The song sang by Lana is upbeat where she describes all
the things shes looking for in a man, this gives the piece a comedy feel. Vintage
microphones are used to transport you to 1940s Hollywood. Again the
choreography is women orientated as Lana is the leading role. She sings her solo

in bright lights, this gives a stardom feeling, associated with Hollywood and
fame. Even though the ensemble dancers are doing big lifts your eyes are still
drawn to Lana telling her story through song.
To conclude, I feel that the choreography along with the props, staging, and
costumes made the vision of 1940s Hollywood come to life. The show showed so
many stylistic features of the golden Age that I at points, I really thought I was in
Hollywood watching a 1940s musical. You can see this very well as the
choreography has been strongly influenced by major dancers of the 1940s.