An interview with Joey McKneely
, who is restaging West Side Story's
choreography in the Chicago production of the revival.
McKneely, who worked closely as a dancer with Robbins on "Jerome Robbins' Broadway," helped craft the splice. "I always worked with Robbins' vocabulary, but asked, 'How can I put these two approaches together?' For the opening, I altered the arms, putting them into fists, so they became aggressive, little things like that. Half of the sailing step remained, the lower half. But we have an edgier line as opposed to a ballet one, because anytime you cross the gap from gang to ballet, you risk parody."
In another dramatic change, Laurents and McKneely cut the ballet to "Somewhere" in half, with McKneely devising an ending. And while McKneely retains the breathtaking rush to the front of the stage by the male dancers in "Cool," Laurents essentially restaged much of that number, including some shocking but funny risque imagery unthinkable in 1957.