So I was in New York and friends of ours invited us to dinner and a Broadway show as an out of proportion gesture of appreciation for a favour we did them.
The show was “An American in Paris”. I anticipated that it would be pleasant – I had seen the movie years ago. I expected good but typical Broadway. I’d seen a few Broadway shows in the real and, of course, at the movies. A few minutes into the performance, however, I became aware that here we had something above-excellent-average special. It was not just competent show dancing of the Chicago or 42nd Street mode/ genre but a touch of class over and above that. I could not take my eye off (or “off of” as the Americans say) the leading lady. I had no idea who she was, or what her name was, or where she came from. I had not even had a chance to glance at the Playbill Program.
Now I need to tell you that for ten years I was the editor and publisher of Dance Australia Magazine.
In this position one is exposed to many of the best dancers / ballerinas in the world. You cannot help picking up a modicum of awareness of who has the gift. I was looking at this woman and saying to myself – this is some prima ballerina plus – she could hold her own in any of the great classical ballet companies. Not only that, she can act, she can sing (“The man I love”), she can superbly dance in the style of George Balanchine or Bob Fosse. She has the stage presence of Margot Fonteyn, the fluidity of Susan Jaffe, and the come-hither eyes of Audrey Tautou.
Later I found that Leanne Cope had come direct from the Royal Ballet in London – so there you go. So had her partner Robert Fairchild. Many more aspects I could mention, but at least a sentence to express my admiration for Christopher Wheeldon‘s choreography and staging. The superb glitz and feathers “I’ll build a Stairway to Paradise” show dance was bookended by a hangdog presentation of a nightclub singer whose dreams of stardom were beyond him. So cleverly done. If you put “American in Paris Broadway” into Bing.com / youtube.com there is a collection of video clips of the Broadway show. This trailer gives you a bit of an idea.