Last night the cast dived right into practicing their waltzing for the ball scene which takes place in the beginning of Act II. Under the direction of Mary, the cast began by learning and practicing bowing. This was customary in the 19th century before taking part in dancing. During the bow the partners are supposed to make eye contact with each other, otherwise it is considered an insult. Then the partner's may only make eye contact if they choose to chat while dancing. There are two different bows for women and men. The women do something like a curtsy with their arms creating an open oval in front of them and the men bend over slightly from their wastes while also creating an open oval with their arms in front of them. This is a very rough description of the bows!!
Most of the actors wear sneakers or jazz, soft, or character shoes when they know they are going to be dancing in rehearsal.
Dewie Fleszar played the accompaniment until Amy could arrive. Live piano music from the score for the show is being used for rehearsing the dancing tonight, unlike the first dance rehearsals where period music from a CD was used.
The cast also learned and practiced how to lead and be lead onto the dance floor. The men lead the ladies after exchanging a bow. This included the ladies placing their hand gently over the gentleman's hand. The ladies may also drape their arm around the gentleman's arm. An interesting fact from Mary is that at the time the musical takes place (19th century), it was frowned upon for ladies to walk around the ballroom by themselves.
The cast also practiced in character going from chatting in small groups, to bowing to each other, to being lead onto the dance floor and finally waltzing.
The dance rehearsals are structured as follows: Mary demonstrates, often using one of the actors as her partner. Then everyone else tries it with their own random partner from the cast without music first. After Mary sees that everyone has pretty much got it, they all begin practicing with the music.
At around 7:40PM, the cast went over some of the music with Joel. They stood on stage with their scores and facing the audience while being directed by Joel who was facing them.
A little after 8PM, Mary started describing the blocking, or positioning and movements, for 4 of the male leads-Edmond, Danglars, Villefort and Fernand-for the Act I finale. The actors took notes and then went through the music while holding their scores/scripts and singing.
A while ago, maybe about a month, the stage manager and assistant stage managers took some time to map out where each piece of the set will be on the stage according to the measurements of the set design. This is so that the actors can begin to get a feeling for how to maneuver around the stage when the set will actually be in place, since it is still being built at this time.
After blocking the 4 male leads, Mary started blocking the tableau of the rest of the cast in the Act I finale. Mary gave each actor a basic idea of their specific action and then let each play with different poses and choose one to freeze for the tableau. While this was happening, any actor not rehearsing had the freedom of asking Susannah to go over their specific character with her offstage. This could include going over specific motivations or feelings of the character during specific scenes or events within a scene.