"HAiR" is a very visual and colorful show. It's also unlike any other musical ever done on Broadway, though it heavily influenced the later rock musicals such as "Godspell" "Superstar" "Two Gentlemen of Verona" "Grease" and even the current "Rent."
The crucial element to the dancing in HAiR is that in general, it doesn't have the tightly synchronized style typical of Broadway musicals. When the cast (The Tribe) ends up dancing together as a group during a number, it usually begins with individuals "improvising" a movement, each on their own cue, and the others join in with their own versions of the movement idea already started.
There are a few moments when tightly choreographed movement is needed, most notably "White Boys", which is a send-up of The Supremes.
Other more abstract moments call for simple group actions mostly involving broad arm gestures.
An option for the staging of a number of songs is for The Tribe to be perched around the metal sculpture set, some several feet above the ground, watching a number be interpreted by a small team of 2 or 3 dancers.
Another option is for some songs to be entirely with a tableaux, The Tribe tucked into the sculpture set in interesting ways.
GENERAL MOVEMENT STYLE:
Twyla Tharp's work in the film version of HAiR is a good inspiration. The style is marked by sensuousness, trance-like fluid movements, seemingly improvisational bursts of muscular adamancy.
Much use of "free-form" individual "dancing in the park" kind of movement is needed throughout the show. Anticipating that some cast members will be more comfortable with that requirement than others, it's suggested that several examples be demonstrated for them to emulate. If some people look hopelessly clutzy no matter what help they're given, they will be our enthusiastic hand clappers throughout.
METHOD OF REHEARSING:
The staging of the show will begin earlier than with most shows. The idea is to encourage the cast to become as physically expressive as they are capable of being.
On any given night of rehearsal, we are apt to work with the Vocal Director first, then move right on to staging that same song.
For each number, a basic stage picture will be established first.
The basic style for the song will be demonstrated.
Cues for special movement will be noted.
Any special moments that take more time to learn will be taught and gone over.
Choreographer and Director will remain loose on improvisational ideas for each song as the weeks of rehearsal progress.
The Tribe will be encouraged to improvise on the groundwork laid out.
Finalizing the shape of each number will be delayed as long as possible, with still enough time left in the calendar to drill what is frozen.
As the show begins, we are in the year 2000. We are swept back to 1968, surrounded by a Tribe of extroverted flower children. It is clear they have taken over the theatre. They launch into a ritual which is meant to show us how they live, what they feel, and what their hopes for the future are.
The Tribe constantly pushes down the 4th wall as they come in to the auditorium to interact with the audience. As their happy improvisational presentation continues, we are deeply impressed with their energy, innocence, exuberance, and passion. By the evening's end, their loves are our loves, and their pain is also ours.
NOTE: In paranethesis are the songs' designated numbers in our script/score. Songs labeled "Major" are the primary dance numbers.
Numbers not listed below consist of shifting stage pictures with nothing more complicated than marching, swaying, etc.
...The opening number which grows out of a slow motion arrival of The Tribe on stage.
...A ritual, invoking the power of the Aquarian Age.
...A group mind is at work, but there are few tight cues that trigger simultaneous movement.
...The following is a description of the number's original staging as told by an original cast member, and can be our starting point.
"Slow motion was used as a warm-up for AQUARIUS and to give the tribe an opportunity to touch the audience.
Claude was center stage, meditating while wispy incense burned in a decanter downstage. The spacey music from the band was our cue to begin moving toward the stage in slo-mo, while carrying out one or two simple activities, interacting with the audience as we went (touching someone's cheek, caressing an imaginary object, making a sound, etc.).
Ronnie came out and began WHEN THE MOON .....
All the while, our focus was to reach Claude onstage by the kick-start line of the song "this is the dawning of the AGE ...." On AGE, we locked arms in a circle around Claude and rotated to the right, stepping one foot over the other.
Then (as I recall), on HARMONY AND UNDERSTANDING", we (men and women) took turns raising or lowering our heads, depending on which group had the line, while continuing to circle to the right.
By the time of MYSTIC CRYSTAL REVELATION we broke ranks, turned around (away from Claude) and walked forward, widening the circle, until the AQUARIUS, AQUARIUS preceeding the last verse. THEN (I am not real clear on this), we stepped out of the circle into a free-form dance over the last verse WHEN THE MOON......., ending with everyone kind of spinning slowly like whirling dervishes, so that by the final AQUARIUS we were in a sit-down position for Donna. The cue to sit down was the GONG.
Some of us danced the incense burner offstage.
The entire number was very un-Broadway, etherial, reverent.
I don't know what is done these days, although I have seen it once or twicerecently where I though it was way too Broadway.
Straight ahead rock, mostly with just Berger who sings lead. The film has some good loose dance steps he could emulate.
The GIRLS of The Tribe, during the course of the song, start playfully vieing for his attention by breaking into a spontaneous send-up of Go-Go Girls. After the first girl sets that tone, the others join in the idea.
The BOYS remain seated where they were at the end of "Aquarius."
On "I've been to India..." the first girl gets up and playfully/seductively dances like a cobra.
On "I'm reincarnated..." a second girl goes to Berger's other side and does a "mystical" dance.
These two girls go into the Go-Go routine on "Finding Donna..."
For the final chorus, all, or most of the girls are up, doing the Pony, Frug, and other Go-Go steps.
3. MANCHESTER ENGLAND (6)
For the final verse, the principal dancers (perhaps 3 couples) do a loose limbed, arms dangling "spontaneous" dance with finger snapping on beats 2 and 4 of the measure, while the rest of the Tribe are backdrop moving to the music with planted feet.
4. DEAD END (8)
Towards the end, eight measures of percussion will be added for a syncopated and "improvisational" garbage can lid banging take off on "Stomp."
5. HELLO THERE (15)
Berger, Woof, and Apache do a brief show bizzy dance with hats and possibly canes. Synchronized and corny Vaudville sideways stepping with hands waving.
6. I GOT LIFE (17) (MAJOR)
HAiR's equivalent to a "production number, this needs to be spontaneous and exuberant. Short dance breaks of 3 measures each have been added.
Claude is lead singer, and mostly stays center playing a tambourine.
One couple starts dancing top of P. 28, set the tone, and another couple soon joins, then another. It could possibly be carried with the three couples and the rest of The Tribe adding a backdrop of semi-synchronized arm movements.
7. INITIALS (18)
The second half consists of a "hippie ballet" ch calls for slow half time movement more "interpretive" than balletic, though a few classical lifts could be added.
The attitude isn't tongue-in-cheek. The Tribe is indulging in an opportunity to dance beautifully.
Again, only a few people need actually do the dance.
8. GOIN' DOWN (19)
For most of the song, it's Berger doing a hippie take-off on Elvis Presley, with The Tribe clapping. As he moves up to various girls, there needs to be a sexual innuendo with the words "goin' down."
Towards the end, there's a limbo contest.
For the final "goin' down" section, Berger leads The Tribe in a "Jets" like dance, hunched over, knees bent, close to the ground, clapping on 4. For the final "Doooooooooooown" all shake hands high in the air then collapse to the floor.
9. HAIR (21)(MAJOR)
Second big production number. Can't let the audience down on this one. ENERGY PLUS and then some.
Claude and Berger alone at first, free form.
Tribe improvisationally get involved with the first chorus, dancing as they would at a concert. "Let it fly in the breeze..." The Tribe sways like grass in the wind as they say "Whoaaaaaaaa!"
Second chorus as before, but even wilder.
"Oh say can you see..." all snap forward to salute.
"Doo doo doo doo..." a galloping step spreading them all out over the stage.
Final choruses, wilder and wilder, lots of head shaking.
10. HIPPIE LIFE (26)
The Tribe come on to the stage at the top of p. 51, with lots of "Indian dancing" in small circles, as per camp fire war dances.
"Keep on truckin..." several guys emulate the famous Art Crumb poster.
"Like a cloud..." all face front with more defiance.
Exit during last chorus, again as "Indians."
11. BE-IN (28) (MAJOR)
Whirling, clapping, etc, like the Hare Krishna's of the late '60's.
Freezes during the adults' lines p. 54.
During the "Love" and "Drop out" chants p. 55, in groups around the stage, feet planted, free form torso dancing and hand clapping.
"Take trips..." free form dancing in large circle around the stage.
"Marijuana..." Hare Krishna movement again, this time using colorful streamers on sticks to create interweaving patterns of circles swooping in the air.
"Beads Flowers..." cast divided in four groups, each one taking one of the four words to move on while the other three groups are "on hold."
After the "beads" chant, they gather in a rough clumpy semi-circle upstage of the barrel where the draft cards will be burned. Improvisational clapping etc with feet planted, except for each guy who develops his own routine for dancing up to and around the barrel before burning his card.
12. ELECTRIC BLUES (30) (MAJOR)
The opening is fairly sedate with a "Mammas and the Pappas" style group along with a stylish Rudy Valee type singer who needs to prance in a '30's style.
Second half of the song is hard rock. The Tribe have flashlights to work with, as well as sparklers to twirl. Free form but highly energetic style "possessed" style "Woodstock" dancing.
13. WHITE BOYS (34) (MAJOR)
Three girls doing a tightly choreographed "Supremes" style number.
The boys get into being sung about, have to do "attitude" walks, poses etc. which can involve sweeping girls onto their bended knees etc.
14. WALKING IN SPACE (35) (MAJOR)
The most continuously fluid and abstract number, in several distinct sections.
..."My body..." each moving individually, sensuous almost erotic movement.
..."red black..." hard rock section, more "free form" but with a bit more group mind in evidence than in previous songs.
..."all the clouds..." slow half time poised walking towards each other, then improvisationally mirroring each other's movements when they're paired up.
..."walking in space..." top of p. 70, all together in a group hug that keeps them facing out, and ending with group arm movements before the retire into the set.
15. ABIE BABY (40)
Simple Motown style synchronized trio.
16. GIVE UP ALL DESIRE (41) (MAJOR)
After the Monk section, 6 different groups kill each other in succession, each group coming on to kill the previous one. Then, with strobe-lights flashing, the whole scene moves in reverse and the killings happen again. In all the action forwards and backwards is repeated three times.
17. 3-5-0-0 (43)
For the "prisoners in niggertown" section, an abandoned Dixie-land Mardis Gras dance.
18. GOOD MORNING STARSHINE (46)
Motivation throughout this song is to cheer up Claude who tends to be preoccupied during this number and the following one.
For the "Gliddy glup gloopy" sections, a silly loose-limbed dance that one person starts and others join in on.
"Singing a song..." The Tribe dances into the aisles, free-form.
19. THE BED (47)
Coupled up at first, they all crawl through a giant penis and explode out of the end like sperm, then the boys do over-the-top playful strip-teases as the girls watch on as a group.
3/4s into the song, two people dressed as soldiers do jumping jacks in contrast.
20. LET THE SUNSHINE IN (50)
Following the simple stage pictures, it builds into a strictly free-form dance, with The Tribe inviting the audience to dance with them.