For a dramatic film, a dance director's task is to develop period-appropriate movement, most often for social settings. For example, in costume dramas characters might be seen meeting each other at balls, and in film noir in nightclubs. In the studio era credit for work was not consistent, even when crucial elements of the plot occur in a dance setting. Agnes de Mille was named as choreographer of George Cukor's (1899–1983) Romeo and Juliet (1936), but no one is credited for the 1938 Jezebel .

In action films the responsibilities of dance directors, fight directors, stunt coordinators, and special-effects staff often overlap. According to contemporary press for The Warriors (1979), each group of actors developed signature movements to distinguish it from the rival gangs. The monumental impact of Hong Kong film-making on Hollywood has elevated the role of the fight choreographer, who stages stunts but maintains each character's individuality. The most influential fight choreographer is Yuen Woo Ping (b. 1945), a veteran whose Hong Kong credits go back to the 1970s. His period work has been seen in Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), both volumes of Kill Bill (2003, 2004), and the Matrix trilogy (1999–2003). In the latter films he created spectacular hand-to-hand combat, leaps into nowhere, and fights with "cloned" copies of actors that were then computer manipulated for pace. Corey Yuen performed similar tasks in the X-Men films in 2000 and 2004, developing individual movement styles for each character's personality and mutation. The House of Flying Daggers (2004) credited action directors, a martial arts coordinator, and the choreographer Zhang Jianming.

SEE ALSO Dance ; Musicals ; Theater

Altman, Rick. The American Film Musical . Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.

Delamater, Jerome. Dance in the Hollywood Musical . Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1981.

Feuer, Jane. The Hollywood Musical . 2nd ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

Stearns, Marshall, and Jean Stearns. Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance . Revised ed. New York: Da Capo Press, 1994.

Thomas, Tony, and Jim Terry, with Busby Berkeley. The Busby Berkeley Book . New York: NY Graphic Society, 1973.

Barbara Cohen-Stratyner

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