Hip-Hop Choreographer Jennifer Weber Has Two Shows Opening on Broadway This Month
Broadway is keeping Jennifer Weber busy these days. On November 17, & Juliet—an Olivier Award–winning musical about what might’ve happened to Juliet if she hadn’t killed herself over Romeo, set to iconic radio anthems, like “Since U Been Gone” and “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”—opens with Weber’s enthusiastically pop-y, hard-hitting choreography. Three days later, another project of Weber’s makes its Great White Way debut: KPOP, a musical offering a fictionalized behind-the-scenes look at a Korean pop-music factory. “They’re both shows that are really inspiring and positive,” she says. “They leave you feeling better about the world, in totally different ways.”
How has your approach to & Juliet’s choreography evolved since the show’s 2019 premiere in Manchester, England?
I’m constantly trying to find the heart of it. I’m using a pop vocabulary, like music video aesthetics, but that’s not normally a language used to tell a story. This is a vocabulary based in coolness, so that’s been the most fun part, figuring out how this vocabulary can become narrative. And how can it become funny? So it’s about twisting it and giving it context, but it’s also about finding the really explosive moments, when dance is taking over the stage. We like to say that & Juliet is 100 percent theater and 100 percent pop concert. It’s about bringing those worlds together, giving you magic and bigness and something to connect to because it hits on all senses.
Is it challenging, choreographing to well-known pop songs, or do you find that freeing?
I don’t think too much about the preexisting choreographies of these songs that people might have in their heads. The thing that’s amazing is that these are the songs that make you want to dance in such an epic way. Sometimes you get a song to choreograph and you’re like, “I don’t know, this doesn’t seem like a banger to me.” But choreographing to Katy Perry’s “Roar”—of course I want to do that! It makes you want to move.
What’s it been like, working on two shows? Have you been able to keep them separate in your mind, or do they end up influencing each other?
The vocabularies are so different. KPOP started with an insane amount of research, because it’s so specific. It’s very important that we stay true to what makes K-pop K-pop. For example, in a K-pop number, there’s something like 50 to 100 formations. It’s very mathematical—it’s about moving around so the singers pop out as they sing. So the function of choreography in KPOP is very different.
I’ve also been working on them both for a very long time. I’ve been with KPOP since 2014, before it was off-Broadway. Now that & Juliet is built, KPOP feels newer because it’s coming to Broadway without an out-of-town tryout.
Do you ever feel like you’ll run out of ideas?
So much of creativity is about the inspiration of the people around you, and it happens in the moment, no matter what you prepped with your associates and skeleton crew. As long as you’re around inspiring people, it’ll be strong.