Winter Is Coming: A Choreographic Salute to the Game of Thrones

By Laurel Victoria Gray

Laurel’s Studio to Stage students pose during rehearsal.

An international hit, the HBO series GAME OF THRONES – known to fans as GOT — depicts a dark and complex feudal fantasy world of Westeros, where warring states fight over an Iron Throne and ultimate power. If armed conflict alone were not trouble enough for these folks, omens predicting a decade long winter and the threat of an invasion of intelligent undead zombies from the North make life very uncertain in Westeros. “Winter is Coming,” indeed.

GOT has everything — intrigue, danger, romance, costumes, dragons – everything, that is, except DANCE! With the exception of a scene of Dothraki women frantically flailing around a camp fire, with a movement vocabulary all wrong for a nomadic horse culture like the Dothrakis, dance is oddly absent from the otherwise intricately constructed kingdom of Westeros. But because the various realms of Westeros have analogs in human societies, I decided that it would be possible to create a suite of dances reflecting these various regions and offered this concept as a performance class for the Joy of Motion Dance Center’s Studio to Stage Performance class series.

Using music from the critically acclaimed mini-series, I selected cuts that could evoke particular scenes from life in Westeros. The dance suite opens with a court dance in King’s Landing, the very home of the Iron Throne. Next, a silken dance of seduction reveals the sensuous women of Lord Baelish’s Pleasure House. (Not to worry, it is appropriate for family viewing.) Following this, the legendary dragons of the House of Taegareons , still babies when we meet them, learn how to fly.

Caren Chancey created this replica of a costume from Game of Thrones.

The only thing between the good people of Westeros and the afore-mentioned medieval zombies, are the Night’s Guard, a life-long military order of misfits, orphans and criminals who serve at the The Wall that separates the kingdoms of Westeros from the wild and preternatural North. Their sword drill is interrupted by three horn blasts, and we all know what that means. Not good.

As music and choreography for the dance suite came together, the challenge of costuming and props proved to be the next challenge. I had come up with basic designs and color schemes for each scene, modified for super quick changes and fashioned from thrift store treasures. This is when the students, fans of the series, stepped in with astounding creativity. They crafted convincing props and hunted down essential costume elements. Each week the dancers have been bringing in their latest innovations and the world of Westeros continues to take shape in the dance studio.

These same dedicated students have learned a suite of completely different dance styles, all with varying moods and nuances. Although we are still a couple weeks away from the performances, our “Winter is Coming” salute to the Game of Thrones will intrigue even those unfamiliar with the series. Just watch out for the dragons and sharp swords. Or worse…

Laurel’s students will perform this Game of Thrones inspired piece at the Studio to Stage Fall 2012 Showcase. Tickets are on sale for Saturday, December 15, 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 16, 7:00 p.m. at The Jack Guidone Theater. Want to get in on the action? Register for any Studio to Stage Winter 2013 Performance Class by December 13 and save 15%.