Recently, I found myself re-watching the 1973 film of Jesus Christ Superstar, and besides the power of the singing of Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson, Yvonne Elliman (and just about everybody else), I was struck by the compelling dance.
The smart and skillful dance combines with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera music and Tim Rice’s clever lyrics to produce a powerful synergy (the film was nominated for four Golden Globes). Shockingly, choreographer Rob Iscove has received little recognition.* That’s a shame—it’s inspired—and so were the talented dancers. The dance is fast and challenging—it fits beautifully with music and verse (dancers reported sunburn and dehydration with all those desert moves). Since the stage premiere in 1971 and the film’s release in 1973, there have been numerous renditions and tours—a number of them starring the unparalleled Ted Neeley** in the title role. A video documenting the rehearsals (Preparing for Tour) for one such tour features interviews with the tour’s associate choreographer Louanne Madorma, wherein she is quoted as saying, the dancers had to use “every count of every bit of music.” Amen.
*See Choreographer compensation for choreographers’ (including Rob Iscove’s) response to the lack of recognition, credit, and compensation in the film industry.