Musicals that want authentic Disco:
Starlight Express Xanadu The Wiz
Disaster Summer: The Donna Summer Musical This Ain’t No Disco
Sister Act The Cher Show Mamma Mia!
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert Kinky Boots Saturday Night Fever
Hot Feet The View UpStairs
The Disco Era started in the early '70s with funk groups like Parliament and Sly and the Family Stone and stretched all the way into the mid-'80s with Whitney Houston and Olivia Newton-John (Xanadu)! This style of music was all about being indulgent, getting on the dance floor, shaking your groove thing, and loving how good the music made you feel! I like to think of the Disco Era as a healthy mix of the soul of the Motown Era and the freedom of 70’s Folk/Rock.
Listen to all my favorite Disco cuts on Spotify, then get a VERY HOT cut of a Disco tune on Musicnotes!
Picking a Song
First, take a look at the great Disco singers like Donna Summer, the Bee Gees, Barry White, and Earth, Wind & Fire. There are also great contemporary singers that are Disco "throwbacks" like Beyoncé, Dua Lipa, Justin Timberlake, and Bruno Mars! "Uptown Funk" can be used as a Disco song if you feel the music in your body and perform it like you are on the dance floor in Saturday Night Fever. Disco is everywhere, so finding a throwback song that is heavily influenced by Disco will make it easy to connect to and use for many genres of musicals.
As always, think about which musicals and audition songs work together!
The instrumentation of Disco music included a thirty-piece orchestra, including a full string and horn section, so your voice needs to match the lushness and fullness of the orchestrations! Creative teams will be looking for a dynamic, soulful sensuality on your voice. Let the deliciousness of the song set your soul on fire!
Shake Ya Groove Thang!
Check out these Disco moves on the famous TV show Soul Train. Dance Fever was another American musical variety series that aired weekly from January 1979 to September 1987. Learn about the history of Studio 54, the world-famous discotheque on West 54th Street in Manhattan, which is now a Broadway theatre!
Disco was made to dance to, so you better find yourself going #fullout in the audition room to all of these tunes. You do NOT need to be a great dancer to give a great Disco audition, but you DO need to watch music variety shows from the era and discover how those great Disco moves feel in your body! If you feel nervous or uncomfortable, find a way to embrace it. The minute you find yourself doubting yourself or overthinking, you lose the core of Disco, which is to let go. So have fun!
It’s important to be aware that Voguing and Queer Dance came from Ballroom Culture, which started in Harlem in the 1920s were born out of the Disco. Based on what you watched on Soul Train, what would a handful of key moves from this time period look like in your body? Be you!
Disco was created out of necessity by Queer, Black and Latinx people in an effort to create a safe space during a very dangerous time to be alive. The Stonewall Riots were happening around this time, and police raids against members of the LGBTQ+ establishments were commonplace. Therefore, the Disco was the one place where people of all races, cultural backgrounds, and Queer identities were safe to be themselves, without increased risk of arrest or ostracization. It was their chance to “escape”, which is why I like to call this era of music "The Great Escape." People, seeking refuge, started exhibiting incredible lust for pleasure and excess and turned to recreational drugs like cocaine, which allowed them to keep the party going all night long. PLEASE don't do drugs, but please do have an understanding of how drugs shifted the culture of this time.
If you do not identify as queer, are you someone who’s there to hold a safe space for your queer friends and family and celebrate them? If you do identify as queer, how does the idea of having a safe space make you feel? What does it feel like to really let go of all the pain you carry and unabashedly allow your queerness to come through your body?Do some research about the hardships that your Queer predecessors faced just for being themselves. Understanding that they moved mountains (and died) to get us to where we are today gives us a richer perspective of what it really means to have Pride in our community.
Check out Max Vernon's "The View UpStairs" for a strikingly honest window into Queer lives during this era. We can consider our personal truths and apply these experiences to our understanding of ourselves living within the music.
Disco songs are intended to make you feel better! If you think about it, many Disco songs start with something dark in their sentiment. Look at the lyrics of Gloria Gaynor's hit song "I will Survive" for example: "At first I was afraid...I was petrified." And then the song turns into a party celebrating her liberation! That's what you get to do with your song! Invite the people you're auditioning for to party with you. We want to see you move from struggle to liberation!
Can you tap into something difficult and allow the music to lift your spirits?
Vocals: Lush, Full, Dynamic, Soulful, Sensual
Movement: Free, Energetic, Rhythmic, Full-body
Pick a song where you can feel the groove and let loose physically and vocally!
Ground yourself in Disco’s roots and pay homage to the Queer/Black and Brown people who created it!
Whatever you choose to wear to tip your hat to the Disco Era, make sure it's slick, tight, and clean. It’s SUPER important for your clothing to reflect your special swagger, sensuality, or just plain love of the funk!
Decadent Disco Fashion!
Watch Disco Classes Below