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Broadway Q&A: Gabrielle Hamilton of 'Oklahoma!’

Category Broadway

|by Jeryl Brunner |


Gabrielle Hamilton soars in 'Oklahoma!' on Broadway

Gabrielle Hamilton is the ravishing dancer in the “Dream Ballet” in the current Broadway revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! This Oklahoma! is probably unlike any Oklahoma! you have ever seen or heard. So is the reimagined “Dream Ballet,” which was choreographed by John Heginbotham. The hit revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s masterpiece is a pared-down production. Directed by Daniel Fish, it’s also one of the most powerful shows on Broadway. While the production doesn’t crowd the stage with set pieces and props, it makes up for it with minimalist truth. Oklahoma! was nominated for eight Tony awards, and set a record for the most Tony nods of any Broadway production of the musical. Before landing at its current home at the intimate Circle In The Square Theatre, Oklahoma! was a sold-out smash at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, where Hamilton also danced the ballet sequence. A recent graduate from Point Park University with a BFA in dance, she has also trained at the Martha Graham School, Uptown Dance Academy and the Bolshoi Academy.

Gabrielle Hamilton dances the “Dream Ballet” in ‘Oklahoma!’ (Photo: Little Fang Photo)

Gabrielle Hamilton dances the “Dream Ballet” in ‘Oklahoma!’ (Photo: Little Fang Photo)

When did you discover that the “Dream Ballet” in this Oklahoma! was going to be different than the Agnes de Mille ballet that is usually performed?
Gabrielle Hamilton: When I went to the audition, I didn’t know it was going to be a solo. Coming to rehearsals, I was the only dancer there, and everything was completely different about the movement and quality in the music. It was out of my dreams.

I realize that your choreographer, John Heginbotham, wants people to determine what the piece means to them. But how do you interpret the number?
GH: It’s really deep. There are so many interpretations for me. Every night is a different version. Every night I feel like I am a part of Laurey. However, I am every one in the cast. I am their oppression. In a physical and emotional way, I get to branch out and be that open sector for them.

When did you know you had to be a dancer?
GH: I always danced. My sisters also danced. We used to have block parties in my neighborhood in Harlem where I lived. They would play music and everyone would dance. No matter the music or who was around, I would always dance in the street. I was always the one to burst out and dance. But in my sophomore year of college at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I truly knew I had to be a dancer. I realized that I couldn’t live my life without dancing. Dancing is a religious process for me. It’s my sacredness, and I get to share myself with the world.

When did you first discover Oklahoma!?
GM: I was a dance major in high school and college. Oklahoma! was part of the curriculum. Agnes DeMille (who choreographed the original Dream Ballet) had such an iconic moment in that show. I still watch it and am mesmerized, blown away. To watch it on film is completely different from seeing it live, which I never had an opportunity to do. But to be in it is out of this world. Oklahoma! is so iconic. To be that soloist in the “Dream Ballet” is such a blessing.

How do you warm up every night?
GH:
I do a lot of core workouts and meditate. The piece is very much from my heart. I have to make sure I'm aligned with myself, my spirit, my soul and my body.

***
For more of the best of Broadway this season, check out our list of the Top Shows in New York in October 2019.

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