What Broadway dance performances have stayed in your head days — or even years — after you first watch them? Playbill.com correspondent Ben Rimalower offers a collection of the most iconic dances performed on the Great White Way.
Kelli O'Hara and Ken Watanabe in The King and I (Paul Kolnik)
Acting, singing, dancing! Somehow movement has been demoted to third billing in the triple threat universe of Broadway. Heck, some musicals today don't have any choreography at all. The opposite used to be the norm. The dancing was the thing you came for — the cliché being that tired businessmen wanted a night out to look at leggy girls. And of course, going back a few eons further, you can trace all of theatre back to tribal dance rituals. I don't particularly long for either of those eras, but so much of what defined the Golden Age of Broadway was the integration of music, lyrics and dance into storytelling.
Thankfully, the ever-expanding modern definition of musical theatre has room for all kinds of expression, including some that are very movement-based. Indeed, the 1996 hit Bring In 'Da Noise, Bring In 'Da Funk was most recognizable for its trailblazing choreography, and many newer shows such as Spring Awakening and have continued to broaden the definition of the form. It's safe to say that, regardless of how Broadway dancing evolves (or perhaps, because of how Broadway dancing evolves), it will continue to be a hallmark of musical theatre for the ages. Click through to read my selections for the Top Ten Most Iconic Broadway Dance Moments.
10. "Turkey Lurkey Time" from Promises, Promises
Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Neil Simon's popular, poptastic 1968 hit, , had an Act One closer for the ages. I've written about "Turkey Lurkey Time" before in an interview with Tony winner Donna McKechnie about the genesis of the number. I am, however, hardly late to the party in exalting this showstopper. It was featured memorably in the film "Camp, " as well as on "Glee" and in a hilariously taxing, yet determined — and strangely graceful — YouTube video by Matt Steele. Throughout, everybody's execution of McKechnie's original virtuoso backbends bears an indelible mark of Michael Bennett's inspired choreography.