Christopher Gattelli on Telling Love Stories Through Dance With Carrie Fisher, Robert Morse and More

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10 Jul 2014

Christopher Gattelli
Christopher Gattelli
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Tony Award winner Christopher Gattelli talks with about the star-studded cast and creative team behind his dance piece In Your Arms.


Dance pieces are few and far between in the theatre. The last one to make a big splash was Susan Stroman’s Contact in 2000. But armed with enough talent to have as big a potential impact is In Your Arms, a new ensemble work dreamt up by director-choreographer Christopher Gattelli (Newsies), currently playing at the Powerhouse Theatre at Vassar College, where it runs through July 13.

The work features vignettes written by the likes of Douglas Carter Beane, Nilo Cruz, Christopher Durang, Carrie Fisher, David Henry Hwang, Rajiv Joseph, Terrence McNally, Marsha Norman, Lynn Nottage and Alfred Uhry, with Stephen Flaherty’s music joining them all.

The trick is the dramatists haven’t furnished words so much as ideas. Each story is told through almost entirely through music, movement and dance, by a large cast that includes stage veterans Robert Morse, Carole Shelley, Debbie Gravitte and many more.

Gattelli spoke to about how he convinced his team of actors and writers to enter his vision.

In Your Arms sounds really different and interesting. How did you come up with the concept?
Christopher Gattelli: One of our producers years ago asked me if I wanted to put together a dance show. We were throwing around ideas of what it could be. At the time, I was doing a show at Lincoln Center and I was walking through the catacombs of the rehearsal studios and saw Terrence McNally’s name on the wall and Alfred Uhry’s name on the wall. It got me thinking. It occurred to me that hadn’t been done before — having playwrights’ works danced instead of spoken. We approached a few of them, Christopher Durang first, and they were really intrigued by it. That gave us the confidence to pursue it. The ball just kept rolling.

In the description of the piece, it says the portraits of these lovers are told through music and dance. Are there any words?
CG: Very, very few. All the stories are told by the dancers. I’ll put it that way.


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