• Creative

Tap to Trapeze: Dance Styles on Broadway in 2024

May 23, 2024

by Ben Togut

The musicals on Broadway this season feature an eclectic variety of dance styles. Through dance, these musicals push the envelope, showcasing movement as a vehicle for innovative storytelling.

In Illinoise, Justin Peck employs a diverse array of dance styles to bring Sufjan Stevens’ concept album to life onstage. While much of the choreography is interpretive, in Illinoise Peck also features theater dance, tap, break dancing, and ballet. A blend of several styles, Peck’s eye-catching choreography is what makes Illinoise shine.

In Hell’s Kitchen, Camille A. Brown puts hip-hop front and center to tell the story of a young artist growing up in New York City in the 1990s. Brown pulled from her experience living in New York in the 90s to create the musical’s choreography, incorporating the movements and rhythms she grew up around. Brown’s choreography, which also features rhythmic, contemporary, and modern dance, amplifies the energy and intensity of this coming-of-age story.

In Water for Elephants, high-flying acts abound. Shana Carroll and Jesse Robb harness the language of circus to bring Sara Gruen’s beloved novel to the stage. The musical’s choreography features a variety of circus acts, like trapeze and acrobatics, as well as styles such as lyrical, jazz, and swing. Showcasing the art of circus, Carroll and Robb’s choreography makes Water for Elephants feel authentic and alive onstage.

In The Who’s Tommy, Lorin Latarro’s high octane choreography is center stage. Drawing inspiration from rock n’ roll, Latarro’s choreography embraces spectacle. During the show, the ensemble flips the child actor who plays Tommy in the air as if he’s pizza dough. At other moments, such as in the number “Pinball Wizard,” dancers burst with such energy it’s as if they themselves are pinballs bouncing around in a machine.

Outside of this season’s new musicals, there is a colorful array of dance styles represented on Broadway. In last season’s audience favorite & Juliet, Jennifer Weber marries hip-hop, pop, and ballet to bring Max Martin’s jukebox musical to life. Bob Fosse’s iconic jazz choreography continues to dazzle audiences in Chicago, while Wayne Cilento’s high-energy musical theatre choreography infuses Wicked with storybook magic.