Research Catalog

Interview with Diane Laurenson

Interview with Diane Laurenson, 2018/ Conducted by Kevin Winkler in New York City on December 4 and 6, 2018; Producer: Dance Oral History Project
Laurenson, Diana, 1957-


Additional Authors
Winkler, Kevin
Online resource (2 streaming files (approximately 3 hr. and 40 min.)) : digital +
  • Streaming file 1, December 4, 2018 (approximately 1 hour and 52 minutes). Diane Laurenson speaks with Kevin Winkler about her childhood in Elmont (N.Y.), in particular, her dance classes with Nancy Baron; her success as a competitive gymnast; going to Broadway musicals and other performing arts events with her mother; matriculating at the University of Massachusetts where she started taking dance classes; how impressed she was by Richard Jones and the Luigi technique; (briefly) Marilyn Patton and the dance department at the University of Massachusetts; graduating from college and moving to New York City where she continued to take dance classes, including at Steps on Broadway; her experience performing as a gymnast in the 1989 Milliken Breakfast Show; her experience auditioning for a touring ("bus and truck") production of Bob Fosse's show Dancin'; Bob Fosse's practice of having all auditioners perform a routine set to the song "Tea for two"; life on the Dancin' tour including realizing how much she had to learn as a professional performer; her lifelong habit of learning by observation; (briefly) the musical The Little Prince and the Aviator; lessons she learned from observing Bob Fosse including his ability to bring out a performer's individual strengths and his strong sense of theatricality; touring in Europe with Dancin' and her shift to performing as a swing; the characteristics of a successful swing; later working as the dance captain and swing for a production of Dancin' at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London; the enthusiasm and appreciation shown by foreign audiences for American musicals; working with Linda Smith and Chris Chadman to put together a new production of Dancin' in the Drury Lane Theatre in Chicago; the term "Fosse dancer"; the Boston production of Big deal including anecdotes about Bob Fosse; the production stage manager Craig Jacobs including an anecdote about her auditioning for the national touring production of Sweet Charity; what constitutes a choreography bible including its function as a form of dance notation; reminiscences of the day of Bob Fosse's death, in Washington, D.C. during the Sweet Charity tour; her feelings of gratitude to Bob Fosse; his advice to her about the importance of friends; her life in New York during the 1980s and the serendipitous opportunities that came her way, in particular due to her acquaintances Sylvia Fay and Scott Salmon; classes she took during this time including with Luigi, Bob [Robert] Audy, and Lee Theodore at the American Dance Machine; some of her favorite roles including Nickie in Sweet Charity and as an Argentinian prostitute in Graciela Daniele's Dangerous games; Daniele as an artist.
  • Streaming file 2, December 6, 2018 (approximately 1 hour and 49 minutes). Diane Laurenson speaks with Kevin Winkler about working in the theater during the AIDS crisis between the late 1970s and the mid-1980s; the qualities of a successful assistant (to a director) as based on her own experiences, including with Bob Fosse and Chet Walker as well as with her husband Bob Richard; working for Bonnie Walker on the [1993 made-for-television] movie Gypsy; Chet Walker and Billy [Bill] Hastings including how she first met them; (briefly) her and Walker's company 8 & ah 1; her transition from dancer to choreographer, including her work with her husband Bob Richard as a turning point; her fascination with the musical West Side story including the fact that it opened the day after her birth [September 25, 1957]; her role as Anybodys in various touring productions of West Side story including the 40th Anniversary tour where she met her husband, Bob Richard; Bob Richard's teacher Eddie Gasper including an anecdote about the lyrics to the song "Big Spender"; how she feels when dancing now; choreographing a production (directed by her husband) of Peter Pan at the North Shore Music Theater, including her use of the percussive dance form Stepping; her choreography for a production of Chicago directed by her husband, including her use of tango and the Charleston; how much she has been influenced by working with Bob Richard in particular regarding how to stage theater in the round; other aspects of working as a choreographer with her husband as director; (briefly) Alan Johnson and how he influenced and inspired her and her husband in particular with respect to their restagings of West Side story; her first husband Michael Paulin and how she came to join the IATSE [The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada] as a stage hand and electrician; some of the shows she worked on as part of the original lighting crew; her experience running the front spot (spotlight) for Les miserables under the tutelage of James Gardner; how this led to similar jobs with other shows including Miss Saigon; how her experience as a dancer and her musicality helped her in her lighting work; dance as the center of her life including how it has helped her survive various life trials; teaching dance including her first classes, at Broadway Dance Center; her goals for her students and her teaching methods including how Bob Fosse has influenced her teaching style; encouraging her students to internalize a work's historical context as part of their learning process; teaching in foreign countries, in particular, in Japan; (briefly) her experience teaching in New Zealand; more on her goals for her students; her current projects: spending more time with her teenage son, and taking acting classes in non-musical theater; the satisfaction of seeing her and Bob Richard's former students as professional musical theater performers.
Alternative Title
  • Dance Oral History Project.
  • Dance Audio Archive.
  • Interview with Diana Laurenson.
  • Sound recordings.
  • Oral histories.
  • Interview with Diane Laurenson conducted by Kevin Winkler, on December 4 and 6, 2018, in New York City (N.Y.), for the Dance Oral History Project of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
  • For transcript see *MGZMT 3-3480
  • As of March 2023, the audio recording of this interview can be made available at the Library for the Performing Arts by advanced request to the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The audio files for this interview are undergoing processing and eventually will be available for streaming.
  • Sound quality is excellent.
  • Title supplied by cataloger.
Access (note)
  • Transcripts may not be photographed or reproduced without permission.
Call Number
*MGZMT 3-3480
Laurenson, Diana, 1957- Interviewee.
Interview with Diane Laurenson, 2018/ Conducted by Kevin Winkler in New York City on December 4 and 6, 2018; Producer: Dance Oral History Project
Playing Time
Type of Content
spoken word
Type of Medium
Type of Carrier
online resource
Digital File Characteristics
audio file
Restricted Access
Transcripts may not be photographed or reproduced without permission.
Recorded for for the Dance Oral History Project of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts 2018, December 4 and 6 New York (N.Y.).
Connect to:
Added Author
Winkler, Kevin, interviewer.
Research Call Number
*MGZMT 3-3480
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