Musical Theatre

Musical theatre, also known as “Broadway dance,” developed alongside jazz and shares many of the same characteristics.  It’s commonly used in shows as a spectacle and form of entertainment, but it can also be used to convey a story.

Elements of Musical Theatre:
  • Focused on a story
  • Movements are defined by the different characters
  • Quirkiness – movements are unique and have a lot of personality
  • Athleticism – typically has a fast pace and consists of physically demanding and intricate moves
  • Props – musical theatre dancers often times use a large amount of backgrounds or hand-held props to help tell the story
Broadway production of “Newsies”

Dance attire is very similar to jazz dance.  Dancers can wear an arrangement of clothing, but some companies require them to dress uniformly.  This may be a leotard and tights, or jazz pants and a top.  Female dancers also will wear either heels or jazz shoes, and can typically can wear their hair as they please.  Fishnet tights are often worn by women both in rehearsals and performances in the musical theatre genre.

Costumes are usually extravagant and bold, with shiny or sparkly fabrics, pops of color, or embellished with rhinestones.  More importantly, the costumes always portray the character being played by the dancer.

Musical theatre class – fairly traditional attire


Fishnet tights

Musical theatre was inspired by jazz music, but today it takes many different forms.  It’s often times used in musicals and goes along with singing or music from musicals.  The music is very dependent on the story and the setting of the dance.  This is shown in a Broadway performance of West Side Story’s “Dance at the Gym.”  This number was performed live at the 2009 Tony Awards.