Music for Class: Made for the Stage

Lainie Munro's music for show tap class

When rhythm tappers step into a Broadway open call, they can easily grasp the steps, but stylistically, they’re in a whole new world. “In an audition, you have to turn it on and sell it,” says Broadway tour veteran Lainie Munro, who has choreographed everything from musicals to TV, and most recently, a “Fashion’s Night Out” event for shoe designer extraodinaire Christian Louboutin. “There’s a whole new carriage in the upper body and arms, and you have to use your face.”

Munro teaches theater dance and theater tap in New York at Broadway Dance Center and as guest faculty at Steps On Broadway. Most of her students are in the business—actors, singers and dancers who have ballet training and strong jazz technique, but come to work on their tapping.

In teaching, Munro is a traditionalist at heart. “I love to promote and learn from the masters—Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Eleanor Powell,” she says. Her final combinations take from the classics. “I think it’s important to teach original Broadway choreography in addition to new stuff,” she says. Her favorites include “I Got Rhythm” from Crazy for You, “Forget About the Boy” from Thoroughly Modern Millie and various numbers from 42nd Street.

Munro finds inspiration in music and suggests that any student studying musical theater should own That’s Entertainment—a 1974 film compiled from performances by big names like Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli and Anne Miller. In class, she uses original Broadway cast recordings. “My philosophy with music is that old school becomes new school becomes old school again,” says Munro. “Because great music is timeless.” DT

 

Artist: Ella Fitzgerald

Song: “Tea for Two”

“It’s the opening for my warm-up because it’s perfect for shuffles. It’s very consistent in tempo from beginning to end, yet it has variations because she plays with her voice. Even a beginner can listen to this and really feel what a shuffle sounds like.”

 

Artist: Ella Fitzgerald

Song: “Too Darn Hot”

“Most of my warm-up is a capella. I use this for the first few things we do across the floor—flaps, shuffle hops, bombershays. Ella’s music just works best with these progressions—big band was her thing. She’s a classic, and you can’t go wrong with that.”

 

Artist: Louis Armstrong

Song: “Hello Dolly”

“This is great as we continue across the floor. He gets a little faster with each verse, so it’s fun depending on where you fall in the lineup, because you have to push a bit faster than the girl before you. It’s a great way to challenge your dancers.”

 

Song: “Greased Lightning”

Show: Grease

“Grease isn’t a tap show, but the music is wonderful. This song is perfect for flap ball change and lindy steps across the floor. With my final progressions, I’m trying out steps that will be in the combination we’ll learn, so they can feel the style.”

 

Artist: Brian Setzer Orchestra

Song: “The Dirty Boogie”

“Big band is phenomenal and this is a great swing arrangement. It’s hot, it’s sexy and it’s very current. I use this for waltz clogs across the floor and also for turning progressions like maxi ford turns. I never pick a depressing song. Tap is happy!”

 

(Photo by Dave Cross, courtesy of Broadway Dance Center)

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