Sunday, 1 July 2012

Van: A Choreographer's Nightmare

Can you imagine Van in the middle of this?
You've got to be kidding.  Van with back up dancers?  Say it ain't so.  But according to Evan Kessler and his blog it sort of happened.  Here's an edited version of Kessler's "shock revelation".
Van Morrison: A Choreographer's Nightmare

Fresh out of college, a young idealist...that was me.  I had spent the last twelve years of my life immersed in modern jazz, tap, and movement classes. Then all of the sudden they give you a diploma and say, "go dance your way through life." 
Lightning struck quite quickly one day as I read through "Modern Choreographer" magazine while eating Chicken Noodle soup out of a Breadbowl on my lunch break at a Panera in Milford, Ohio.  There it was in the classified section.  "CHOREOGRAPHER WANTED: for world tour of a famous classic rock musician."
I quickly called the number and scheduled an interview with the tour director.  The only problem was, the interview was in New York.  Rather than flinch at the distance I had to travel I ran to the bus depot and bought a ticket.  Before I knew it I was leaving on a Greyhound, as John Denver used to sing. 

My interview was fantastic.  Darlene the tour director immediately told me that the Classic rock musician in need of choreography was Van Morrison.  Van wanted a modern dance interpretation of his 1970's classic album Moondance to accompany his stage show, as he'd be playing the album in his entirety.  I nearly fainted in disbelief.  Moondance was my favourite song of all time and my other two favourite songs were the song that came after Moondance on the album, and the other song that came after that. 
Feeling inspired I blurted out my experience choreographing No Jacket Required. I think Darlene took this to mean that I had actually choreographed Phil Collins, but I didn't realise that at the time.  I was immediately notified that I got the job. 
Luckily, we didn't have to go through the casting process as Van had already personally selected the dancers he wanted on the tour through a vigorous audition process.  The first week was bliss as I worked my fingers to the bone listening to Moondance  and coming up with hot moves to compliment some equally sizzling tunes.  After three weeks of gruelling rehearsal we were ready to take on the tour.  Our first night was in my hometown of Cleveland.  I was ready to show all of the people who I went to high school with that might show up to a Van Morrison concert, just how this local boy made good. 

When the curtains went up the show went on as planned.  Van played his sweet soothing blend of Folk, Country Rock, R&B and Jazz.  The dancers swarmed and manoeuvred about the stage in their tight fitting attire, weaving in and out of the band's performance space.  To my eyes, it was a thing of beauty.  I had tears streaming down the whole time.  Sure there were a few heckles from the audience who didn't appreciate a good dose of modern dance, but I had triumphed. 
 
After the show Van called myself and tour director Darlene into his dressing room, I presumed to congratulate us on a show well done.  Instead he said, "Let's cut the whole dance portion...it's a bit too faggy."  And with that my Classic Rock choreography career came to a screeching halt.

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