a new role in musical theater, says choreographer Chris D'Amboise, who's using a workshop at Tampa's Broadway Theatre Project intensive to hone his vision. "Traditional musical theater treats dance as a third wheel," he says. D'Amboise
wants to combine movement, spoken word, and music to explore a piece's emotional content. "I use dance to tell the
story, but not in the sense of following a plot," he says. "I want the audience to understand movement the same
way they understand a monologue." At BPT a group of dancers and non-dancers-D'Amboise uses both-will work on the
penultimate number of a new musical he's creating, "Moving Story."
Meantime another show that he developed, "The Studio," is casting for a November
run at Washington, D.C.'s Signature Theater with an eye to a New York move. A former New York City Ballet principal, D'Amboise,
now in his 40s, cites Balanchine and Robbins as teachers and inspiration. "I learned the beauty of abstract movement
from Balanchine and my story-telling concerns from Jerry Robbins." The BTP intensive has allowed D'Amboise freedom
to experiment. "The kids down here are terrific," he says. "We have incredible ballet dancers and theater dancers,
but some of my favorites are the non-dancers. They physically throw themselves into the movement, and click emotionally with
it." While "Tribute," a recent ballet, won kudos when NYCB performed it this year, D'Amboise feels his
focus now lies with musical theater. "I'll never leave the dance world," he says, "but I feel such a passion
for making dance a more relevant voice in musicals." Listen up, Broadway!