Our new digital series "In The Life Of:" follows creative individuals that work behind the scenes to bring you some of your favorite films, theater productions, art and music. In our first episode we follow Broadway director and choreographer Steven Hoggett two weeks away from an opening night workshop production entitled "We Are Here," based on the '70s disco scene in New York City, using the music of legendary composer and producer Nile Rodgers.
You may already be a fan of Steven Hoggett's work and not even know it. The British director and choreographer has worked on such Broadway productions as Green Day's "American Idiot," "Peter and the Starcatcher" (which won him the 2011 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Choreographer), and most recently "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," for which he was nominated for a Tony for Best Choreography.
His newest venture is a collaboration with legendary record producer, songwriter and musician Nile Rodgers, of Chic fame. Multiple Grammy-winner Rodgers has collaborated with some of the biggest stars in music, including Donna Summer, David Bowie, Madonna and Diana Ross.
"We Are Here" is a new show in development that will plunge audiences into the hedonistic world of disco. Hoggett directs and Rodgers has dug deep into his timeless music archives to deliver a new show that experiments with the use of music, video, movement and storytelling within an exciting, high-energy performance environment inside the NYC's famed East Village theater space at La MaMa (dubbed "The GlitterLoft" for the show's short run).
New York City 1970s. Behind the velvet rope, people of every race, class and sexual identity come together, encouraged to wear whatever they want, kiss whoever they want and, of course, dance however they want. "We Are Here" highlights the music bedrock of disco's iconic tracks to explore the rise of a popular movement, and the stunning backlash against it. Forget white suits and mirror balls – this is a celebration of the beat that set the world on fire, and continues to unify generations and cultures at a time when it is needed more than ever.
Hoggett couldn't agree more. "The minute you start to look at disco beyond the immediate sheen of it, it's really fascinating," he said. "It's an incredible part of New York history and the early '70s. And then Nile, really if you just start to list everything he did in those years, but also the minute you step outside that you look at all his production credits and writing credits, yeah you just start to really track this beautiful journey through music.
"I always liked the idea of music having that kind of, just different streams of influence just flying over each other and everywhere else. It's nice to really show what Nile did and thought and said – and what he produced and how he produced it, and how he stayed true but was developing, pioneering at the same time. So, that's been a real joy."
Not to mention having an excuse to "put your headphones on and listen to disco."
Written by Olivier Award-winner Michael Wynne ("The Priory"), "We Are Here" immerses audiences in mind-blowing video images created by projection designer Darrel Maloney, whose Broadway credits include "American Idiot," "The Illusionists," and "On Your Feet," with lighting design by Olivier Award-winner Natasha Chivers ("Sunday in the Park With George"), and sound design by Olivier Award-winner Tom Gibbons. The choreographer is Yasmine Lee, who has worked as Hoggett's associate movement director on "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," "The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time," "The Crucible" and "Once." Set and costumes are designed by Tony Award-winner David Zinn, whose Broadway credits include "SpongeBob SquarePants," "Fun Home" and "The Humans."
"We Are Here," which is produced by Spiegelworld and Showcase Performances, runs July 31 through August 4 at The GlitterLoft, New York City.