...that the southland gave birth to the blues!
Today I had the exciting experience of sitting in on today’s open rehearsal with renowned choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie, one of three choreographers for American Legends. Darrell choreographed a piece that pays tribute to the work of singer, tap dancer, actor, and musician Sammy Davis, Jr.
An energetic crowd of more than 90 people attended the free rehearsal in the BalletMet performance space. The audience clapped along and gave the dancers several standing ovations through out the hour.
During the rehearsal, Darrell filled in for the tap dancer, who will be Marshall L. Davis Jr.
Love Me or Leave Me, a duet performed by Adrienne Benz and the hoofer (tapper), was performed at the rehearsal. The piece is full of vitality and everything fun. Adrienne and Darrell danced with an adorable chemistry.
I was surprised when watching Adrienne because she moved with such ease through the jazz jumps, leaps, and turns. I wouldn’t know from watching just this that she was a ballet dancer; she looked like she belonged on Broadway. Darrell announced later that she learned the piece in just one hour and that when she danced it for the first time with Marshall that it looked like they had known each other for years.
Another piece rehearsed was Birth of the Blues, which has several couples dancing together. It has amazing lifts and switching up of partners. The best way of describing this piece is that it’s gooey and hot like a chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven. (I’m not just saying that because I’m on a diet!) It ends with the men spinning the women like tops on their backs on the floor. I really want to learn how to do that!
Darrell took several questions from the lively audience through out the rehearsal. Many were wondering about his choreography process.
“For me, it’s the music.” Darrell said. “I listen to music over and over again and try to visualize something. I wonder how I can keep it interesting. I try to make each dance its own world.”
Darrell explained how when he gives dancers solos he has them take the music home and listen to it on repeat so they can learn to know it like the back of their hands. When he choreographs, he knows every ping, hum, and tick in his music.
One question from an audience member was, “Who chose that the women dance in those heels?” Someone else from the audience yelled out, “a man!”
Darrell said that the costumes were too fabulous to be worn with flats.
“It’s so hard, but these girls treat them like they’re sneakers,” Darrell said.