What is the job of a choreographer and how does he/she approach it? A well trained eye for dance and staging seems to be a given, but how does a choreographer work really? We met up with Matt West, choreographer for the Broadway productions of LESTAT and Disney’s BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, which won him a Drama Logue Award and who many musical theatre enthusiasts remember fondly as “Bobby” in A CHORUS LINE, who Matt West portrayed both on Broadway and in Sir Richard Attenborough’s film version of 1985.
The job of a choreographer for musical theatre
“The job of a choreographer I think is a job that wears many hats. It depends upon the project, but usually a choreographer’s job begins when the music starts. Now with our shows and my director Rob Roth [Robert Jess Roth], we score many of the projects all the way through, so the music continues. But when a song begins, the choreographer steps in and the choreographer takes usually the song after working with the set designer and the director and the costume designer on what that song needs to say. The choreographer will take all that information and create a staging for the song and many times then the song then goes into a fantastic dance number and the choreographer will take and continue that into a style, maybe it goes into a tap number, maybe it goes into a lyrical ballet number, maybe it goes into a number that is full of props and musical ideas. So again, working with the director, the set designer, the lighting designer and the costume designer, altogether they will create what that musical number needs to say, and so really the job of a choreographer is to take a whole bunch of information and then pile it all together and make it his or her own musical number. But there is not one choreographer that does it alone that I know of.”