A Chorus Line: Q&A with Choreographer Ellen Kane

Wed 17 Nov 2021

Following the smash-hit success of our 2019 Made at Curve production of West Side Story, Choreographer Ellen Kane reunited with Director Nikolai Foster to stage a new Made at Curve production of A Chorus Line for Christmas 2021. The show was hailed as ‘world-class’ (The Daily Telegraph), and we can’t wait to see the musical back on our stage this summer (Friday 28 June – Saturday 13 July 2024). 

Back in 2021, we caught up with Ellen to find out more about her plans for choreographing the legendary Broadway musical, what the production means to her and what audiences can expect. 


You were last at Curve for our acclaimed 2019 production of West Side Story, how does it feel to be joining us again this Christmas and teaming up with Nikolai Foster once more?

I adore working with Nikolai and when he spoke about the potential of the show, for so many reasons I felt that the opportunity to do this show at this time was something I really shouldn’t let go.

How will you be approaching this iconic show?

When I approach a show I let the piece tell me what to make. What’s incredible about A Chorus Line is it crosses over so many styles and I intend to exploit that to really let the stories explode on-stage.

A Chorus Line is known for its sensational dance routines, particularly the finale. How will you approach creating new choreography for this show?

I’d be a fool not to acknowledge the huge accomplishment of Michael Bennett’s original choreography. It lifts itself from the name of the show and with his pioneering work, Bennett honoured the plight of the performers who go to audition after audition and find a way to keep going. Style-wise, you can’t ignore the era in which the show is set but for me, the finale shows the individuals consumed by the machine. By the end of the show we’ll have heard each character’s story and plight, only for them to end as ‘one’, performing pattern sequences in this grand machine. My plan is to subvert this in a way, so we do celebrate these individuals.

The finale is the product of the whole show and will stand for all of the work we will have done before.

What makes A Chorus Line special to you?

Until Nikolai and I began speaking about the show and I read the script and watched the movie, I wouldn’t have said it was particularly special to me.

I came to dance relatively late at 16, and focused on contemporary dance, even though I trained in classic ballet, jazz tap etc., so for me it doesn’t sit quite in the same familiar place as it might do for some musical theatre performers. I know that at least for some, it’s very much a part of something that has inspired them to do what they do – a powerful motor. Coming to the show much later as an adult, having already had a career in contemporary dance and transitioned across to musical theatre, my relationship was to the people who stood on that stage as opposed to the artform as a whole and this has only grown; I can relate so strongly to the passion for performing, and the need to do this, strangely maybe even more so now as a choreographer. I know what it feels like to be so driven and to just want the opportunity to do what you love. The more I understand and know the piece, the more I feel connected and excited by the idea of revisiting it.

Do you have a favourite number in the show?

I try really hard to stay on the outside so I can invest the same amount of thought and drive into every single number. If I let myself sit on any particular one, inevitably I’d be favouring that in terms of the work I put into it.

I don’t treat them like numbers, I treat them like stories. My job is to be respectful and to listen to those stories so I can try to bring them to life. They all deserve the same amount of care.


Looking for sensational theatre in Leicester this summer? Catch A Chorus Line at Curve 28 June – 13 July. Click here to find out more and book now.

Image: Ellen Kane in rehearsals for A Chorus Line at Curve. Photography by Marc Brenner.