Dance in Musical Theatre: A History of the Body in Movement

Phoebe Ellen Rumsey (Editor), Dustyn Martincich (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportBook


From Oklahoma! and West Side Story, to Spring Awakening and Hamilton, dance remains one of the most important and key factors in musical theatre.

Through the integration of song and dance in the 'dream ballets' of choreographers like Agnes De Mille; the triple threat performances of Jerome Robbins' dancers; the signature style creation by choreographers like Bob Fosse with dancers like Gwen Verdon; and the contemporary, identity-driven work of choreographers like Camille A. Brown, the history of the body in movement is one that begs study and appreciation.

Dance in Musical Theatre offers guidelines in how to read this movement by analyzing it in terms of composition and movement vocabulary whilst simultaneously situating it both historically and critically. This collection provides the tools, terms, history, and movement theory for reading, interpreting, and centralizing a discussion of dance in musical theatre, importantly, with added emphasis on women and artists of color.

Bringing together musical theatre and dance scholars, choreographers and practitioners, this edited collection highlights musical theatre case studies that employ dance in a dramaturgically essential manner, tracking the emergence of the dancer as a key figure in the genre, and connecting the contributions to past and present choreographers. This collection foregrounds the work of the ensemble, incorporating firsthand and autoethnographic accounts that intersect with historical and cultural contexts.

Through a selection of essays, this volume conceptualizes the function of dance in musical: how it functions diegetically as a part of the story or non-diegetically as an amplification of emotion, as well as how the dancing body works to reveal character psychology by expressing an unspoken aspect of the libretto, embodying emotions or ideas through metaphor or abstraction.

Dance in Musical Theatre makes dance language accessible for instructors, students, and musical theatre enthusiasts, providing the tools to critically engage with the work of important choreographers and dancers from the beginning of the 20th century to today.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing Company
Number of pages320
ISBN (Electronic)9781350235540, 9781350235557, 9781350235564
ISBN (Print)9781350235533, 9781350235526
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2023

Cite this