Dance on the 2018 Tony Awards

As someone who has been involved professionally in musical theatre dance for about 40 years, I've seen a lot of choreography and dance presentations come and go. One thing about Broadway choreography - in order for it to be good, and to last, it has to have integrity, ability, and ingenuity.

Which brings me to the 2018 Tony Awards - what a shambles, in terms of quality theatre choreography. Dances from
SpongeBob Squarepants, and Mean Girls - so lacking in all three of the qualities I mentioned. Silly premises, lack of strong ability, and a very low level of creativity in choreography. Total oversell to the audience, and outlandish costumes that only added to the cheap appeal. Not much better than theme park choreography.

The staging from
Once On This Island…better, more integrated, but still not a strong use of actual dance choreography. Nicely staged in a traditional Broadway presentation. From the Donna Summer Musical - more of the usual rock and bop dancing that is more filler than filling.

The only standout, and I mean REAL standout, was "Blow High, Blow Low" from
Carousel, choreographed by Justin Peck. Here we see all of the qualities I mentioned - integrity in the rapidly changing patterns, stellar use of music, and the movement's adherence to the characters in their scene; ability in the superb quality of the dancers who were performing highly physical and technically challenging movement; and ingenuity in the masterful dance vocabulary and effortlessly unfolding sections of the piece that always was well paced yet built to a climax. Justin Peck is a choreographic master along the lines of Jerome Robbins, and with a strong hint of Balanchine aesthetics thrown in (is it just me or does BHBL bear resemblance to Balanchine's Union Jack?). He saved this Tony Awards Show, and I can vouch that the rest of his Carousel choreography was equally impressive when I recently attended a performance. I hope that he has more Broadway shows lined up in the future. His Tony Award for Best Choreography is well deserved.

Another aspect that was highly appealing about this dance was the
pure masculine, athletic approach of the dancing. Which was sorely lacking in the first two show pieces mentioned. Men - dancing a stylized version of folk dancing, with movement vocabulary drawn from the movements of their work, mixed with concert dance techniques, all executed with the bravura of pure masculinity, was more than refreshing, it was a sight for sore eyes. This type of dancing has been absent for far too long from Broadway, and it is just the type that will encourage many forgotten audiences to return to attending Broadway shows. It's quality and appeal cannot be denied - please, let's have more of THIS type of dancing on Broadway!