According to Lois Effdelt, to dance is “to perform a rhythmic and patterned succession of movements, “to move nimbly and merrily” and sometimes “to cause to dance.” A choreographer is a maker of dances, a creator of sequences of movement on a stage.
My parents were interested in dance, and our family attended numerous Broadway productions. These productions involve the finest and most artistic directors and choreographers. Susan Stroman is the blonde, blue-eyed girl behind some of the most successful Broadway musicals including “Crazy for You,” “Showboat” and the renowned “Contact.” When her choreography first appeared on Broadway, dance had almost disappeared, however when Stroman received her third Tony Award this June, she had managed to return dance to a position equal to that of singing.
Susan Stroman began dancing at the age of five, studying ballet, jazz and tap. She began choreographing high school plays and pursued a major in theatre at the University of Delaware. In 1974, Stroman decided to audition for the production of “Hit The Deck” in New York City. Following this performance, she continued to dance for many other shows including “Musical Chairs,” where she began her life-long friendship with Scott Ellis. Ellis and Stroman decided to become more involved in directing than performing, and Stroman’s love for choreography quickly took off. She went on to collaborate with Ellis and book writer David Thompson on an Off-Broadway production of “Flora, The Red Menace ” and a show entitled “And The World Goes ‘Round.”
Susan Stroman and her husband were visiting a pool hall one Tuesday evening as usual. Little did they know that a couple of months later, a successful Broadway production would spin off from this mundane evening.
“Everybody was totally dressed in black, as usual in New Yor and out walked this girl in a yellow dress,” Stroman said.
Apparently, the young lady pushed back the pool tables and began swing dancing in the middle of the dance floor.
It is evident this young woman not only changed Stroman’s life and her success as a choreographer but also helped pave the way for a story that will make your feet move to the up-beat music and your heart find a passion to dance.
Stroman continued to work on various productions, some of which have earned her a Tony Award for Best Choreographer and others that caused her to lose millions due to its’ failure to please her audiences. “Contact” and Susan Stroman revolutionized Broadway, music, dance and choreography. After years of people not being allowed to dance, the girl in the infamous yellow dress, sparked a successful Broadway production that not only helped Stroman deal with her personal life but also allowed her audience to experience dancing and acting at its best. Stroman brought dance back to the spotlight it deserves and continues to entertain audiences with her remarkable productions.
“Contact” takes audiences through three exotic stories and is bright, witty and triumphant. It is a believable show that justifies dance and music.
As Donald Lyons wrote in the “New York Post,” “Stroman is our best. This choreographer makes dance a celebration of body and contact, a site of happiness and the will to live. (She’s) the best we’ve got.”