The choreography of a knife fight is obviously very different from that of a gunfight — and dance moves are crucial to any production of “West Side Story.” So how do you get today’s audience involved in the thrust-and-parry movement of a 1957 rumble? [Director Matthew] Gardiner, a former choreographer, has hired Parker Esse, a Helen Hayes Award winner for his choreography in “Oklahoma!” at Arena Stage, to help answer that question.
“Though Parker and I are both working on this,” Gardiner says, “we have Jerome Robbins as a third collaborator.” Robbins, who also directed the original Broadway musical and co-directed the 1961 movie, pioneered a new kind of American dance for the show. He famously tore pages of dialogue out of the script, because he believed he could present the scene better with non-verbal dance.
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