Choreography for amateur productions

By “amateur,” I mean anything from high school and college productions to community groups, in which the dancers are not professional.

Am I correct in assuming the choreographers use each other’s work (e.g. via videos), or do they choreograph from scratch each time? Like if a college or community theatre is doing a production of, say, “A Chorus Line,” what is the chance that the choreographer will use other people’s choreography, possibly from the original Broadway show? And if the group is paying royalties to put on the show, would that include the choreography, or would they have to pay an additional fee for that?

It had been many years since I was involved with such things, but the community and dinner theatres that I used to work with always had a choreographer for each show…and yes, it was done from scratch, not a copy of someone else’s work.

For what you describe, it wouldn’t be too difficult for you to enlist the help of a local dance studio who would probably work for a nominal fee, of even just for the advertising.

I did musicals in Jr. High and H.S. and my wife has directed a ton of them through the years in elementary school, as well as assisting in some H.S. musicals.

I would disagree. A lot of the time, the overall staging appears very much like what was seen on Broadway. If there was a movie, the movie may be emulated.

Here is a prime example: Find me a H.S. production of Bye Bye Birdie that stages the “Telephone Line” number without building big colorful boxes on stage for the girls to curl up into. Just like they did on Broadway. Just like they did ( in filmic terms with opticals ) in the movie with Dick Van Dyke and Anne Margaret.

This is not unique. No offense to choreographers out there. Many do strike completely original notes in creating their work. Just as many, it seemed to me, steal whole hog in staging. --shrug-- Either way it’s fun.

I was in…hmm… Annie Get Your Gun, Oklahoma, Bye Bye Birdie, Damned Yankees and Pippin. I’ve seen some of those films or filmed performances. I also saw Pippin on Broadway while it was in it’s original run in the mid 1970’s. The staging was clearly “borrowed” in that case. No big deal, though.

We too had a choreographer for each play. They stole freely. :slight_smile:


a lot of the ones I’ve been in take a combination of both.

Particularly those that have a distinctive or memorable style. Like a Fosse show or Bye Bye Birdie, where people already have some sort of set idea of what it’s SUPPOSED to be like.

Like in my high school productions, we have a really crappy awful choreographer and everything has to be watered waaaaay down for the kids who can’t dance. But, for example, when we did Sweet Charity, we were told to watch the movie to get an idea of the feeling of certain numbers. And every once in a while, we’d see something identical to what we’d been taught, but it was like the dance for dummies version.

And then when I do something through my dance studio, with a really good choreographer and recruited dancers, it’s generally something evocative of the style but totally different. Like Sweet Charity would still be in Fosse style, but we wouldn’t be able to pick out bits of our version in the movie.

A local production of “Fiddler on the Roof” had okay choreography, done by a dance instructor from a local community college. :o
High point: Sliding of mopping across the floor during “Matchmaker”. :smiley:
Low Point: Fat-bottom wine bottles used during wedding dance scene. :eek:

One of the reasons most of us in amateur theatre are still doing amateur theatre is that we lack the creativity needed to be professional. More than one choreographer I know has told me they all steal from each other. As a director, I know I’ve swiped a few ideas over the years. If a friend of mine directs a show I’ve already done, I tell them they can feel free to steal anything I stole, just don’t steal anything I created. They usually end up stealing both. Set designs are especially bad. I can go to almost any amateur groups web page, look at pictures of their sets and identify the play with far greater accuracy than I can with professional sets.