Dance is a critical part of entertainment and normally used as a catalyst for innovation in musical theatre. In addition, it makes the entertainment very appealing to the audience, who may beg for the repeat of a thrilling dance. This essay focuses on the application of dance to the West Side Story by describing the numbers and discussing what made the dance essential to the show.
In the West Side Story, dance was an innovative way of telling the audience a story about the rivalry among the gangs, who operated in the streets of New York. Even though the dance depicted gang rivalry, it was not violent, but in a form of a jazz dancing style. This unique way of story telling plays a significant role is changing the behavior of people, especially the audience. The dancers showed their dancing prowess to make the audience joyful and enthusiastic while they get information on matters relating to crime. Moreover, it was an innovative performance, in which the rival performers applied jazz dance to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the story. The West Side Story did not employ stage-fighting dancing style, but applied an innovative means to entertain the audience as they told the story. Instead of dialogue, the dancers began performing in an antiquity, using jazz style to impress and inform the onlookers. This mode of dancing has evolved over a time to create an impression of modern dancing style in story telling.
The innovative dance style made the story very popular because the performers used different body movements to make sure that the audience remained glued during the entire performance. For instance, Shulman (2013) indicated that the kind of stage work that the dancers performed tells the story and makes it comparable with other performances. This could make it easier for the audience to make accurate judgment about the group of artists that did the best performance. The West Side Story also showed that even the presentation of lyrics could be in form of a modern dance to make the audience understand the entire message that the artist wanted to pass across.
In term of the numbers, the West Side Story had specific people who took part in the performance, including Romeo, Juliet, nurse, Tybalt, Capulet, Lady Capulet, Benvolio, Mercutio, Friar Laurence, Montague, Sampson, Abraham, Prince Escalus, and Balthasar. They all participated in the innovative dance to create the mood that the choreographer wanted to portray in this performance. These participants were enough for the theatre dance because it was the requirement of this new innovative style that used jazz and modern dance styles. With these numbers, the performance actually created sensation in a dramatic way. Indeed, the type of performance has greatly changed the way musical theatre operates lately because of the paradigm shift from the traditional form of theatre to a modern style.
According to Wells (2010), the dance is essential to the show because it went beyond mere entertainment to telling the actual story. Moreover, it sets mood for the audience thereby preparing them to enjoy each episode of the story. The choreographer made sure that he/she created a dance that was particularly unique for the story. Innovative dance is also essential because it shapes the instrumentation as the story advances because the rhythmic body movements are necessary when trying to create an impression in the story. The dance also helps the performers generate an effect in a story so that the audience may imagine the episodes ahead, even though their guess might not be accurate, unless they had watched the entire performance. Here, the kind of dancing style employed may show that there is a tragic scene ahead.
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