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DIRTY DANCING HAVANA NIGHTS

Dirty Dancing
The choreography in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights grows out of the narrative and encompasses an eye-catching range of styles. Choreographer JoAnn Jansen designed routines for each of the four primary dance venues: the Palace, where dance contestants perform structured routines; the Rosa Negra, the underground club where locals go to dance dirty; the country club, where the American teenagers go to dance to 50's rock 'n' roll; and the cobblestone streets and plazas of Havana, where Cubans of all ages dance to the sounds of live musicians.

Describing Jansen's unique choreography for the film, Ferland remarks, "There were so many styles coming together. Salsa was just the beginning; there was merengue, mambo, Afro-Cuban, ballroom – all mixed together in a wonderful new way by JoAnn.”

The film's dances capture the emotional changes worked by dance. When Katey learns to relax into the percussive rhythms of Afro-Cuban dance, it reflects a number of shifts inside her. Explains Jansen, "Katey is a girl who's in her head, but with this kind of dancing, it's a body-to-body experience and you have to follow your partner. So Katey can't memorize. She has to follow Javier, and she has to follow him with the music, watching the drums and letting the drums watch her. And she gets to the place where she can get into her body and free herself. The dancing is an expression of her sensuality, and of becoming a woman.”

Both Katey and Javier are experienced dancers who bring different styles to their secret partnership. However, neither Garai nor Luna had any professional dance training, so Jansen's first task was to teach them the skills and steps their characters would either know or learn. Before production began, the actors spent ten weeks in Puerto Rico, training for eight hours a day with Jansen and four additional dancer/choreographers.

"It was like going back to school, having to get up really early and go to work. We had Afro-Cuban lessons, tango, salsa, plena, a lot of things,” Luna recalls. He and Garai also learned about the historic context in which some of the dances evolved. "It was interesting to study the African influence on dance in the Caribbean. For example, the teacher might show us a step that looks like flamenco, and explain how slaves invented that step to make fun of their owners. Then you go out at night and you start to notice people doing those kind of moves and you see how they incorporate all these African influences in their life.”

Each day began with an hour of warm-up, followed by salsa dancing footwork, leading up to an hour of partnering practice before a lunch break. After the break, the training would resume with choreography. Says Jansen, "We'd start building sets and combinations of moves using the arms and feet. In partnering, your arms are doing different rhythms than your feet – in a sense, your body is split in half. Romola and Diego had to learn how to move their arms to one rhythm and their feet to the congas in the music. It's very advanced work.”

The first routine Jansen created was one of the two competition dances that Katey and Javier perform at the Palace. "It's what Katey learns from Javier at the Rosa Negra and what Javier learns from Katey about ballroom dancing. We melded the two and made their routine look like a combination of elegant, graceful ballroom sliding into funky, sexy Afro-Cuban dirty dancing.”

Garai and Luna practiced the routine over and over again, until it began to feel organic rather than choreographed. Garai recalls the moment everything clicked. "Two weeks before the end of the rehearsal period, we did the big routine three times. The first time was competent; we did everything on time and it was fine. The second time, they said ‘do it like you mean it'; it wasn't as good technically, but it had a lot more energy, passion and acting in it. The third time, the technical and

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