"The doors did not open easily" on her way to "Cinderella"

Ensemble roles in Broadway shows (“Miss Saigon”, “Guys and Dolls”, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”) followed, and soon...


Ensemble roles in Broadway shows (“Miss Saigon”, “Guys and Dolls”, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”) followed, and soon Hunter began working as a dance captain, the member of the set that can teach choreography for each character. While starring in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” in 2002, director Rob Ashford asked her to be her choreographic partner.

“JoAnn has always been the smartest person in the room as well as the best dancer, and I knew she would be invaluable,” Ashford said in a telephone interview. Hunter, who had just divorced, wasn’t so sure. (She said her initial response was “aaarghhhh.”) But she had to take a chance.

“She’s a real problem solver and a great contributor,” said Ashford. “In a musical, a choreographer must enter the mind of a director and translate this vision into his own creation. She was always about the goals of the show.

Director Michael Mayer, who hired Hunter to oversee Bill T. Jones’ choreography for “Spring Awakening” in 2006, said in a phone interview that one of his great gifts is “understanding why the steps are there, what the characters are trying to accomplish through movement, and how movement is in conversation with the rest of the elements of the show, even though at this point she hadn’t made up the movements.

Hunter’s first independent musical choreography was for a 2008 US touring production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. “I remember thinking, I’ll never know unless I try this,” Hunter said. “And if I’m bad, not many people will have seen it!”

When asked if she thinks this kind of insecurity is particularly prevalent among women, Hunter looked thoughtful. Maybe, she said. “Men tend to try things regardless of whether they have the experience.” She added that the lack of female choreographers on Broadway hadn’t helped her gain confidence.

While there are still relatively few female choreographers working on Broadway, that has started to change: Camille A. Brown, Michelle Dorrance, Ellenore Scott, and Ayodele Casel choreograph all upcoming Broadway shows. Hunter agreed that women are now a bit more visible in musical theater. “It’s amazing to think that as a dancer I’ve only ever worked with two directors, Susan Stroman and Tina Landau,” she said. “Right now these issues are at the forefront of our brains, as is racial diversity. Hope this is something lasting, not a fad.

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Newsrust - US Top News: "The doors did not open easily" on her way to "Cinderella"
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