The Wizard of Oz

Posted by matthew on Apr 13, 2005 in dance |

On Monday night Lotte and I had the pleasure of seeing the kids involved in the Mt Scopus production of The Wizard of Oz perform a number we had choreographed for them while Lotte was on placement as a student-teacher. The kids were really terrific. About 30 of them performed The Jitterbug, which is a song that never appeard in the film. It’s a shame because it’s actually a really swinging number. We did track down some shaky footage of the cast of the film rehearsing it before it was dropped (it’s an extra on one of the DVDs). The challenges in choregraphing it were many: the kids varied greatly in their age and dance experience, and the number was quite long and very high energy. We needed to come up with a way for the stronger students to do some “real LindyHop” stuff without requiring too much of them, and we only had 2 sessions to teach them! Lotte did almost all of the work, of course. I just helped with the planning and choreography. We split them up into smaller groups and gave each group a short sequence. There was a longer sequence that they all did as a chorus, and then the smaller groups trade phrases, stealing the spotlight briefly. The principle actors (pictured) all needed small dance parts of their own that were not too challenging because they were singing at the same time with headmics.

The way it turned out was even better than we’d imagined, dance-wise. The kids completely nailed it, really. Musically it was not so great. Instead of using the recorded track as they had said, they decided to play the music live. That would have been a big ask for an experienced swing band, but for the student band it was a nightmare and they didn’t pull it off. To the kids’ credit they danced it all as though the music was spot on, and they got away with it. Thankfully there was a reprise at the end and one of the two numbers they did was The Jitterbug. It worked better musically the second time through, and it showed. After the show the kids came up to us and told Lotte that they’d seen her watching and dancing away in her seat. They went back to their friends and said “Lotte’s here! Now we really have to dance well!!”. It was so cute.