Broaden/Broadway Your Mind – Column by Mia Michaels
I remember as a little girl going to see a Broadway show with my dad every summer. I remember the electricity in the audience before the curtain rose. I remember the men and women that pranced into the theater dressed in the finest garb, dripping in diamonds, furs, and anything else they could showcase on the way to their sacred red velvet seats. It was a big deal to be there. I remember watching in amazement and feeling the powerful wave of magic that poured from the lips of the stage directly through the viewers and right into my young, open, hungry heart.
The voices, the movement, the story, the experience marinated in my every pore for hours, days, perhaps even weeks after, which in turn kept me inspired and more on fire to achieve my dreams for the rest of the year until I came back to the Big Apple next summer. Sigh. (smile)
Here we are now: 2007
As I walk into yet another Broadway show, I see men and women wearing the casual thing jeans, tee shirts, sneaks, looking like everyone just came from a long day’s work, perhaps the gym. Maybe they just finished shooting a Gap ad. No, they would have had makeup on then. They walk down the once sacred aisles to their seats as if they are being sent by their parents to go clean their rooms before they can go outside and play. There was more energy around the bar in the lobby than in anticipation of the show about to begin. The expectancy of mediocrity was contagious. Where was the excitement? Where were the electricity and the fire that used to burn down that regal red curtain before the show even began? It’s Broadway, people!!! Wake up! What year is it again? 2007! Dance, music, story, and style have evolved, or have they?
Oh, wait! It’s another revival! Oh, that’s right. It’s safe. It worked twenty years ago, so why not now? Yeah, it works. Keep it! Again and again, and perhaps again. Don’t get me wrong. The history of Broadway is not to be criticized nor disrespected! The brilliance and the talent from the past have led us to where we are now. So why does it feel like the torch that was to be passed on somehow got put out? We as creators, directors, writers, composers, and choreographers need to take a good hard look and realize it is our duty to keep that fire growing within us and within our community. We have got to keep it blazing like they did in the days of original shows and original creators such as Fosse, Robbins, Bennett, Bernstein, and so many more. They strived to create the newness at that time. They pushed the envelope with style, power, and grace. We laughed, we cried, and we sung and danced right out of the theater. They didn’t hold back and edit their dreams. It was the truth inside them. It was their unique voice.
Where are those creators now? Where are those with that unique burning voice? The theatres themselves are crying out to be blessed again with risk and danger, with great theatrical creations. No more playing it safe. I want the newness. I want the broad way of thinking again. Oh, wait, maybe that’s just me! (Sigh)
* Mia Michaels is a world-renowned choreographer. She was recently awarded her first Emmy Award for Outstanding Choreography for Calling You, created in 2006 for Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. Mia has been collaborating creatively and as a regular columnist for movmnt since its inception.