James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo, directed 'Every Little Step' with such deep feeling and intelligence, that they allow the audience to become somehow connected – via the moving pictures and sound - to the experiences of the dancers auditioning.
Every Little Step: Sony Pictures
A Chorus Line, is a musical about seventeen dancers auditioning in New York for a Broadway show’s chorus line. When it was initially brought to audiences in 1975, it instantly became a hit, and it created an ‘energy’… a ‘buzz’ – so to speak - in the industry. It was THE show to see. If you could see only one show that year, it would have been A Chorus Line.
I was too young to understand how impactful and off center it was for the period. By the time the Broadway sensation was adapted for the silver screen in 1985, so much was written about it, and so many recognitions were awarded to the show (12 Tonys nominations, 9 awards), the book (The Pulitzer Prize for Drama), that I had to see it, and though – I’m told – the film adaptation paled to the stage performance, I was still swept away, and fell deeply in love with it and, everything to do with dance. I happily twirled in my mother’s kitchen, non-stop and leaped from sofa to chair in exuberating. I became the ‘eighteenth dancer’ not yet discovered by the A Chorus Line producers. Needless to say, I did not become a dancer.
The original Broadway production was the brain child of Michael Bennett, who also directed and choreographed A Chorus Line. The show ran for 6,137 performances, and became the longest-running production on Broadway, in its history. Many successful productions have been shown worldwide and, in 2006 it was revived on Broadway again. During the ‘cattle call’ for the 2006 production, a film crew followed several hopeful candidates (over 3,000 candidates) and the production team, documenting every step in the making of the new A Chorus Line. What came out of this compilation of footage, is the movie Every Little Step.
Having been a fan of the original, I went to view Every Little Step a bit prejudiced, and expecting a ‘behind the scenes’ sort of ‘History Chanel’ documentary, like ‘Hitler’s best friend who loved dogs’ kind of documentary. Far from it!
The idea of A Chorus Line came from Michael Bennet, who had long wanted to make a show about the ‘gypsies’ – highly skilled dancers who travel from show to show, to be found in the background to the stars.
Michael gathered his dancer friends one snowy night, over some red wine, and began a conversation with them, which he recorded on an old reel-to-reel. They discussed body image, challenges in their lives, sexuality, what started them on the path of becoming a dancer, etc.
Parts of these recordings were played in Every Little Step and through them, the audience begins to understand that the characters in the original Broadway show were actually real. Making the show even more special, because suddenly there is a deeper understanding of the pain, joy and angst the dancers portrayed in the show, since they were true emotions originally felt by them after whom the A Chorus Line was actually tailored.
Michael Bennett passed away in 1987, old footage and his voice are present throughout the documentary, painting an amasing picture of the conception of the original show. Bennett’s creative partner and co-choreographer, Bob Avian directed the revival in 2006, he gives great insight to Michael’s ideas, and how he executed them.
James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo, directed Every Little Step with such deep feeling and intelligence, that they allow the audience to become somehow connected – via the moving pictures and sound - to the experiences of the dancers auditioning. This film evokes sensations of anxiety, before a performance; fear, of rejection; joy, of triumph; sorrow, of defeat. Every Little Step was a rollercoaster of raw emotions, which sounds a bit intimidating, but is indeed a beautiful symphony which cleanses the mind and soul. One taps into what a dancer (performer) goes through to reach his/her goal and gains all the more respect for their devotion and dedication to the craft. I found myself pirouetting to my car after the film… maybe it’s not too late to pursue that dance career after all.
Every Little Step
Directed by: James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo
Release date Australia: July 2nd, 2009