There’s Great Dance on Broadway. Hello, Tony Awards?

At the beginning of the second act of “Oklahoma!,” the audience is greeted with a dance: A young woman — bald, powerfully built and wearing a sequined shirt that says “Dream Baby Dream” — appears, surrounded by swirling fog, as if she were a mirage.

That dancer, Gabrielle Hamilton, runs, prances, twists violently from side to side and pauses to stare boldly at audience members. Her presence, uninhibited and raw, is meant to shake things up. This may be Broadway, but the dream ballet in Daniel Fish’s brilliantly reimagined “Oklahoma!” is ages from the usual step-ball-change kind of dance found there. And that’s wonderful.

[Read about how John Heginbotham created the dream ballet.]

Why has it stirred up such strong reactions, with audience members loving or hating it? Clearly, it strays from the norm. It’s unnerving. And it’s not afraid of looking ugly. That its choreographer, John Heginbotham, wasn’t nominated for a Tony Award seems both shocking and not at all surprising.

The frustrating part about Broadway dance isn’t that there is no choreography of quality, but that what’s excellent — “Oklahoma!” and, in another register, “The Prom” — isn’t being recognized. But standard fare, or worse, slight fare, receives nominations. The main exception is Camille A. Brown’s defiant choreography for the play “Choir Boy.”

As Orpheus, Reeve Carney, with his raised shoulders and arms held slightly behind his back, mirrors the stance of Mr. Neumann in his dancing days. You can sense how closely they worked together, but the effect is contrived, as is the busy choreography for the group known as the Workers Chorus. These are dancers trying so hard to be seen that they’re distracting.

That sort of look-at-me behavior happens in “Kate Me, Kate” and “Tootsie,” too. What Ms. Hamilton illustrates in “Oklahoma!” is diametrically different: The choreography grants her the ability to move like lightning, but also to be patient.

Mr. Heginbotham has said he was inspired by remarks made by Agnes de Mille, who created the original choreography for the show in 1943. Speaking to a group of dance students, she once said: “Take your time. Beginners are always afraid of taking time. They think nothing’s happening. Time is happening, and it works in suspense. Time can work for you as actively as a gesture if you know how to use it.”

The use of time is what makes the dream ballet so disconcerting for some and so riveting for others. In Ms. Hamilton’s dancing, what we’re witnessing is a sexual awakening. The choreography, stuttering and sensual, disrupts full-bodied runs and spins with stillness where we wait for Ms. Hamilton’s blood and breath to settle back into her body.

She has no partner, yet the dance is full of touch. Ms. Hamilton caresses her face and her neck, opening herself up to sensations. She makes eye contact with audience members and then flitters away. She is both tough and vulnerable as she makes private acts public. The solo can look messy, and that’s O.K. It’s a release. There’s a reason it feels warped; she’s not from the same universe as the characters in the play.

At the same time, she’s a container for all of them, including, of course, Laurey, the confused heroine torn between two men. Yet this choreography asks bigger questions: What side of yourself do you present to the world? Who are you really?

Ms. Hamilton’s movement brings the script to life: “Close your eyes and inhale. Ask your heart what you really want. Wait for the answer.”

As the dance progresses, that becomes something of a dare to the audience: Do it. And don’t be afraid of taking your time. Ms. Hamilton is paving the path. It might not be pretty or comfortable, but as she dances on the edge of a dream, she’s the spirit of a bold, new frontier. Broadway, please take note.

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