By Elenor Bergstein
(Creator of ‘Dirty Dancing’)
In re-imagining ‘Dirty Dancing’ for the theatre, we have tried to take advantage of the risky immediate life of the stage. Live dancing, for instance, has a different effect onstage – a sense of danger and contagious achievement.
Our story allows us to approach dance in the theatre in a new way. For many of our characters, dance is how they make meaning in their lives, and so the dancing in our show comes out of story and finds its power in individual expression and discovery.
Kate Champion’s original choreography uses the movements of everyday life. In Kate’s dances, each performer is usually following out an individual personal line, rather than the traditional unison dancing of much musical theatre. We use music the way people use music in real life. Our live musicians are part of the action – as the Kellerman’s band they perform upstairs for the paying guests, then down in the staff quarters they tear off their jackets and jam. (They play ‘Do You Love Me’ while the staff kids dirty dance.)
They are also the Sheldrake band. Sometimes they are off stage and provide the ever-present live sound of music that presides over our characters’ emotional lives just as music does in real life – the soundtrack of the events of our lives, the events of our hearts.
And sometimes, of course, as in real life, it’s a scratchy iconic record that does the trick. We wanted to create something that could stand on its own both for theatregoers who haven’t seen the movie and those who have.
* ‘Dirty Dancing’ is showing at the Artscape Opera House from January 18 to February 10. Book at Computicket.