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BDC dances in Dance Parade 2018

Broadway Dance Center (BDC) strives to be a home for dance, providing world-class training to dancers far and wide in the heart of New York  City. Dance Parade LLC has a similar mission, “to promote dance as an expressive and unifying art form by showcasing all forms of dance, educating the general public about the opportunities to experience dance, and celebrating diversity of dance in New York City by sponsoring a yearly city-wide dance parade and dance festival”. It’s a perfect match!

Greg Miller, Dance Parade Founder and Director, explains how Broadway Dance Center has been involved with Dance Parade from the start, twelve years ago. It grew from protest of New York City’s Cabaret Law, prohibiting dancing in crowds in public spaces. Dance Parade framed their efforts as a First Amendment Right in order to have legal clearing, and to obtain permitting to close city streets.

And the Tony Award goes to…

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The nominees for this year’s Best Choreography category are all so amazing and so different! We couldn’t pick a winner so now we want to hear from you!

[1]”History from the Tony Awards.” TonyAwards.com. The American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards®, n.d. Web. 04 June 2016. <http://www.tonyawards.com/en_US/history/index.html>.
[2]”Tony Awards Facts & Trivia.” TonyAwards.com. The American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards®, n.d. Web. 04 June 2016. <http://www.tonyawards.com/en_US/history/facts/index.html>.

BDC honors National Tap Dance Day

In honor of National Tap Dance Day on May 25, we asked our Tap Faculty to tell us their influences, inspirations and favorite things about tap dance.

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BDC Tap Faculty

What’s your advice for tap dancers in training?

In trying to grow in tap, don’t get caught up in Broadway tap versus rhythm tap. If there’s no rhythm, there’s no tap. Tap technique is the focus and you can get exceptional technique from so many teachers. Take classes with a variety of teachers to reach your full potential. ~Aaron Tolson

Who are some of your favorite tap dancers throughout history? 

The Nicholas Brothers, The Condos Brothers,The Berry Brothers, Vera Ellen, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Honi Coles  ~Doug Shankman

Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Eleanor Powell, Ann Miller, Sammy Davis, Jr. ~Lainie Munro

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Lois Miller, Clayton “Peg Leg” Bates, Baby Laurence, Bill Bailey, John Bubbles, Gregory Hines, Jeni Le Gon , Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Lon Chaney, Ayodele Casel, Chuck Green, Coles & Atkins,  Arthur Duncan, Jimmy Slyde, Bunny Briggs, Buster Brown, and the list goes on and on! ~Jason E. Bernard

MODERN DAY MASTERS & TAP DANCERS CHANGING THE GAME

Savion Glover, Jason Samuels Smith, Randy Skinner, Nicholas Young, Dormeisha Sumbry-Edwards, Derick K. Grant, Diane Walker, Curtis Holland, Michelle Dorrance, Jared Grimes

BEST TAP SEQUENCES ON FILM

“Begin the Beguine” with Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell in Broadway Melody of 1940 

“Challenge Scene” in Tap featuring Gregory Hines, Sammy Davis, Jr., Arthur Duncan, Bunny Briggs, Jimmy Slyde, Steve Condos, Harold Nicholas and Howard “Sandman” Sims

“Jump N Jive” with the Nicholas Brothers in Stormy Weather

“Pick Yourself Up” with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Swing Time 

“Prove Me Wrong” with Gregory Hines & Mikhail Baryshnikov in White Nights 

“Singing in the Rain” with Gene Kelly 

“Too Darn Hot” with Ann Miller in Kiss Me Kate 

For more tap dance footage visit our playlist on our YouTube channel!

 

Mom’s the word…

In honor of Mother’s Day, we sat down with some of our faculty and staff to find out what they love about being mothers.

Sue Samuels, Jazz Faculty

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Sue (R) with children Elka and Jason and their dad JoJo Smith (L).
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Sue with daughter Elka (R) and grandchildren Kaya and Zion.

Mother’s Day is an important day to me because of my children Elka and Jason! My children were “studio children”, and were in my class sitting on the floor doing their homework after school every day. I didn’t even think they were watching the dancing. They never danced in my class at that time. Then, one day, Frank Hatchett invited me to teach in his children’s program, and for Elka and Jason to take classes. They haven’t stopped dancing since!  Now my grandchildren are in my dance classes and in the BDC CTP! I love Broadway Dance Center for always supporting me and my family.

Allie Beach, Director of Youth Programming 

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Allie with son Jordan

Being a mom is the one of the greatest privileges on this earth. And I am SO grateful that my son has the opportunity to grow up in the studio around wonderfully diverse friends, and people who are artistic and creative and who care about him. There’s a lot of love for my son within those BDC walls, and I’m grateful that we can call our dance community family!

Nicole Falabella, Scheduling Director

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Nicole’s daughter Kylie Saige

The best part about being a mom is the moment your baby cracks their first smile, and all your sleepless nights and months of planning are forgotten!

Dawn Rumbaugh, Director of Operations

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Dawn with her kids Christy and Ryan

The best part of my life is my two beautiful amazing loving kids! Christy and Ryan — you have taught me so much about life and given me so much love and happiness!! I love you both more than words can express!

Ginger Cox, Jazz Faculty

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Ginger with her son Jack.

I love being a mom! Jack and I have such a great time together. I’ve learned so much from my fellow moms (and dads) at BDC! I’m so thankful that I can bring him with me to the studio. Jack loves dance, loud music, and being at BDC. Except once, when he was 3 years old, he started having a tantrum, freaking out and taking off all his clothes! Thankfully Danielle (a past manager) rescued me, and took him for a walk to cool down!

Jill Kenney, Tap Faculty

I’ve only been a mom for 8 weeks, but there is nothing more amazing than holding my little bundle of joy and seeing him smile each day. Even his little pout is the cutest thing in the world to me! Sometimes I can’t handle how much I adore him. As a new mom, I’ve been bombarded with so many life changes, but he is well worth the challenges that each day brings. I love him to pieces and I think he’s starting to like me a little too.

Jessica Epting, Ballet Faculty

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Jessica (R) with husband Jason and their kids Creighton, Cadence and Maxwell (L to R).

“Life is not only meant to be appreciated in retrospect . . . There is something each day to embrace and cherish.” —Dieter F. Uchtdorf

I find motherhood an exhausting, thrilling, challenging and rewarding honor! I love living alongside these little people!

Shelly Hutchinson, Jazz Faculty

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Shelly’s sons Colin and Jeep

I used to be able to dedicate time each day to a creation station in the studio… and then I had 2 babies. So I make it work. Now we improv everyday wherever we can. Toddlers have the coolest, most rare movements and moments. Bringing the best of both of my worlds together — can’t go wrong with that!

Diane King, Executive Director

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Diane with daughter Olivia

I love being a mom as it puts your own life in perspective and you have to shift your priorities. There’s nothing like the cuddles and love from my daughter!

We wish all of our BDC moms a HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Dancing For A Cure: BDC’s Olivia Hutcherson Shares Her Personal Journey

Olivia Summer Hutcherson is one of BDC’s very own. She took her first class at 16 after moving to NYC  from Atlanta, GA and instantly fell in love with the music pumping from every floor, the huge variety of classes, and electric energy flowing through every studio wall. At 23, she began BDC’s Work Study Program and was able to work in the studio in exchange for additional training in Ballet, Jazz, Musical Theater, Contemporary, Hip-Hop, House, Whacking, and even Voice. She later went on to assist BDC’s Children and Teen Program’s Latin Jazz classes as well as assist Shirlene Quigley. Olivia always considered BDC a second home but now recognizes them as a second family.

BDC to Broadway: Drew King of “On The 20th Century”

 

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Former BDC Front Desk Manager, Drew King, made the “leap” (well, really just a 0.3 mile walk) from Broadway Dance Center to Broadway—starring in On the 20th Century at 42nd Street’s American Airlines Theater. While Drew didn’t grow up with extensive dance training, he still had the courage to pursue his dreams in New York City. So how did a self-proclaimed “non-dancer” find himself performing in a tap-dancing musical choreographed by Tony-winner, Warren Carlyle? Take a look at our interview with Drew and see how his time and training at BDC helped him on his journey to the “Great White Way.”

What was your dance/musical theater training like growing up?

I started out as a musician. I played saxophone for a few years, and then in middle school I joined choir. All throughout high school, I trained as a vocalist in a wonderful music program and studied with a voice teacher who was also on faculty at Boston Conservatory. I had a wonderful theater program at my high school. I grew up watching the musicals there and knew I wanted to participate when I got to high school. My freshman year, I auditioned for Grease and was cast as Doody. I was hooked on performing from that day forward.

As a dancer, I never had formal dance training back home in Massachusetts. A friend’s mother owned a dance studio, and she was kind enough to let me take jazz and tap class my senior year of high school…but other than that, I was a very late bloomer. I had always wanted to be a dancer, but I never had the opportunity or financial resources. I knew that when I moved to New York, I would have a lot of catching up to do.
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How did you come to dance and eventually work at BDC

I ended up in New York by accident, I suppose. I knew I wanted to be here, but I showed up much earlier than I anticipated. I wanted to be a musical theater major in college, but every program that I auditioned for rejected me. By the end of my senior year, I found myself with only two acceptance letters (not to musical theatre programs) to Fordham University and Marymount Manhattan. With no other options, I moved to New York in the fall of 2005 to attend Fordham University at 18 years old.

My freshman year at Fordham, a classmate who was a dancer dragged me to Broadway Dance Center on 57th Street for a basic ballet class. I was terrified and intimidated, but by the time the class had finished, I was so excited! All of sudden, I realized that all the resources I needed to supplement my training were at my fingertips. New York has some of the greatest training opportunities and classes. After I finished that class, I immediately picked up a work-study application from the front desk. I turned it in the very next day, and by Saturday, I was training for my first work-study shift. I continued training at BDC and working in the work-study program all throughout college, sticking with the program through the move from 57th Street to 45th Street. I remember working with Dawn Rumbaugh at the Actor’s Temple while the new studio was being built. By the time I got to my junior year in college, I managed to get a permanent job at the Front Desk working phones and as an assistant manager. I juggled my last two years of school with my front desk shifts as well as dance training at BDC. I continued working at BDC as a front desk manager on and off until the spring of 2013. I’ve spent roughly about 7 years working and 10 years training at Broadway Dance Center. That studio has been a second home and second family for the majority of my time in New York City.

Were/are there any classes or teachers at BDC to which you can attribute some of your success?

BDC has such an outstanding faculty. Working the front desk, you get to know all the teachers and staff of the studio. I would have to say that almost all of my success comes from the faculty at Broadway Dance Center (as well as those staff members who guided me and gave me the opportunity to train there). So many of my teachers went out of their way to get to know me, make corrections, encourage me and push me. It’s terribly intimidating starting dance training as a 19-year-old adult when you’re walking into a class with dancers who have been training since they were toddlers. It’s terrifying and can be humiliating, but BDC and the faculty there looked beyond that (even when I couldn’t see beyond it myself) and saw potential in me. Every teacher there inspired me to never settle, to always challenge myself, and to accept my own personal journey and path. Aside from dance training, so many of the teachers at BDC have unknowingly been some of my favorite life coaches. I’ve had so many wonderful teachers here, but some specific teachers who have really encouraged me and pushed me to get to where I am today include people like Beth Goheen, Natalya Stavro, Jamie Salmon, Dorit Koppel, Ray Hesselink, Matthew Powell, Germaine Salsberg, Michelle Barber, Sheila Barker, Tracie Stanfield, Brice Mousset, Josh Bergasse, Al Blackstone, Ricky Hinds, David Marquez, Ginger Cox, Slam; it might sound like a long list, but every one of these teachers have left a lasting impression on my personal life as well as my training.

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What does it feel like to make your Broadway debut?

Of course it is incredibly exciting…but honestly, a bit surreal. I’ve been dreaming of this opportunity for so long, and now that it is happening, I’m struggling to believe that it is real. Sometimes I truly have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. I also am aware that I am having quite an exceptional experience for a Broadway debut. To be involved in an original Broadway cast of a show is a rare opportunity, and even more rare when the show is a hit and so well received by the New York community. So many exciting opportunities have come from this show, and every time something pops up, I can’t believe it’s happening. I feel that the whole experience has been a fairytale version of a dream come true, all neatly wrapped up with a bow. Many lifelong “bucket list” opportunities have come to fruition, such as having a first Broadway opening night, getting “the call” that you booked the job, singing (and tapping!) on a cast recording, dancing on television, performing on the Tony Awards, etc. Even more exciting, the four tap dancing porters (myself included) were nominated for an Astaire Award alongside such outstanding talents like Tony Yazbeck and Robert Fairchild.

What was your audition process like?  (How did you prepare, callbacks, etc.)

The audition process was incredibly fun but also intimidating. Warren Carlyle is so kind and gracious in the audition room, which makes auditioning for him so great, but he also sets the bar very high and demands excellence from everyone. That is one of the many reasons why his choreography sparkles in all the shows he works on.

I had attended an open ECC (Equity Chorus Call) for the show last summer, and received a callback a few weeks later. At the callback, Warren quickly taught a pretty lengthy and tricky tap combination, after which every guy in the room had to do one-at-a-time. In most audition rooms, you will dance with two or three other guys per group, but Warren had us each tap by ourselves—pretty intimidating and exposing with all eyes on you; certainly no room for error. However, it wasn’t as terrifying as it could have been because one my biggest tap mentors, Ray Hesselink, always has his students run exercises one-at-a-time in his class. This is a skill that has come in handy for many auditions these days, including the audition that got me my first Broadway show.

After dancing and singing for the callback, I got a call for a final callback a few weeks after that. For the final callback, there were about 24 guys. We all had to do the tap combination again, as well as learn the vocal harmony to a four-part harmony song from the show. I had to learn the bass line, and the music director played the other three vocal parts on the piano as I sang the bass line against it. That afternoon, only a few hours after the callback, Warren personally called me himself to tell me I had booked the show.

untitled4Working on a new musical (of a revival), what was the rehearsal and workshop process like?  Did a lot of changes occur during previews?

The rehearsal process was extremely exciting. This show is very rarely done, and this was the first revival since the original production with Madeline Kahn in 1978. Roundabout Theater Company is the master of putting on a revival, so they knew exactly what they were doing. They assembled some of the most incredible designers and creatives in the business. It was so exciting to see the show start as an idea on paper and vision boards, and then come into existence on stage at the American Airlines Theater. The sets, costumes, music, direction, choreography all blossomed and came to life over the short rehearsal period and it was truly magical having the opportunity to watch that happen.

During previews, there were slight changes in some of the music and writing, and even some of the choreography, but for the most part, what was rehearsed in the studio is still represented in the show right now.

Describe what it’s like to work with Tony-winning choreographer, Warren Carlyle.

Working with Warren is a dream. Aside from his undeniable talent, style, professionalism and grace, he is such a wonderful human being. He is incredibly attentive and sensitive to every person he works with, and has an overwhelming sense of gratitude and respect for dancers and performers. He teaches his choreography very quickly, and asks that you are paying attention and giving 110% energy along the way. Many rehearsal processes are short, so he does this for a matter of time, but ultimately, he wants you to be the best that you can be, and the cast has a great admiration for him because of this. It is no surprise to me that he won the Tony Award last year, and I have no doubts there are many more in his future. It is truly an honor and a joy to perform his choreography eight shows a week. The audiences certainly love it, but most importantly, every cast member in our show loves it.

What are some of your favorite past credits?

I would have to say that one of my favorite past credits would be My One and Only at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. This was one of my first professional gigs working at an Equity house. The theater was built way back in 1877 and produces some of the best regional theater productions you can find in the country. The theater is beautiful—as is the location—and everyone who works at the theater is a lovely human being who absolutely loves and treasures the tradition of American musical theater. They do beautiful work, and it was an honor to perform there.

Another favorite past credit would also have to be working at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine. I’ve done three contracts up there (9 to 5, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Joseph). Each experience has been delightful. The production quality of the shows is wonderful, the staff is amazing to work with, and above all, you get to spend the summer living on the beautiful coast of Maine.

untitled5What do you do when you’re not performing? 

When I’m not performing, I’m trying to res…But because I’m a busybody, I’m still training, auditioning, going to the gym, and working a part-time job that I’ve had for about three years now. The downside of this business is that there are no guarantees and rarely any security. My show will close in July, and soon enough, I’ll be back to pounding the pavement. I’m working hard now to keep my body and training in shape so that I’m ready to hit auditions again. |BDC| 


Interview by Mary Callahan for Broadway Dance Center

Dancing For a Cure… Our Eighth Year!

1385972_10151968281152387_23152780_n4Join Broadway Dance Center in the annual Making Strides (or rather, saut de chats!) Against Breast Cancer.  This Sunday, October 20th, thousands of New Yorkers – including Team BDC – will walk “the loop” through Central Park to raise awareness about breast cancer and the work of the American Cancer Society.

Sign up online and then pick-up a T-shirt from the BDC retail office.  Whether or not you are able to walk with us on Sunday, you can still make a donation (either online or at the front desk at BDC) to help us reach our goal of $2,400.  Last year alone, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer raised nearly $70 million dollars through their walks across the United States.

Funds raised through Making Strides Against Breast Cancer support the American Cancer Society’s fight to end breast cancer. Specifically, these dollars are used to make a difference in the following ways:

  • Helping people take steps to reduce their risk of breast cancer or find it early when it is most treatable
  • Investing in research to find, prevent, treat, and cure the disease
  • Providing free information and services to help people facing breast cancer today – when and where they need it – including transportation, lodging, wigs, support programs, financial assistance, and more
  • Ensuring access to mammograms for women who need them, and encouraging lawmakers to pass laws to defeat breast cancer

2013 marks Team BDC’s eighth year participating in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.  This year we will be walking in honor of one of Broadway Dance Center’s most beloved teachers, Diane Laurenson.  Become a part of Team BDC and join us on Sunday as we walk (and dance) for a great cause.

*Meeting at 74th Street and Central Park West. We’ll walk in together at 9 a.m.

JOIN TEAM BDC!

Book Review: Our Story, The Jets and Sharks Then and Now

images1I picked up this amazing book at the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids Flea Market a few weeks back.  “Our Story” is a sort of “joint” memoir that was written by twelve performers from the film adaptation of “West Side Story” (1961).  Each chapter is essentially a diary entry by one of the dancers and includes “then” and “now” photographs.  The memoir includes both Jets and Sharks (the two rival gangs in the musical; Caucasian and Puerto Rican, respectively), many of whom originated the same roles on the Broadway stage.  This incredible book takes you behind the scenes of the classic movie musical and gives you an inside look at the dancers who created those characters on the big screen.

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  • Jerome Robbins (choreographer) was “fired” from the film production because he cost the producers too much money.  Robbins was a perfectionist and would insist on many, many takes of each scene from nearly every angle. (Check out the clip of “Cool” at the bottom of this post and notice the brilliant, and obviously tedious, camera work).
  • The Jets and Sharks were required to take a full-length ballet class each morning before rehearsals/shooting.
  • Robbins encouraged actual rivalry between the dancers who played the Jets and the Sharks.  He would not let them interact during the work week in order to build camaraderie within the “gangs” and tension between them (on film, that is!).  The Jets and the Sharks even played pranks on each other!
  • Most of the film was shot in LA (at MGM studios), but the Prologue was shot on a lot in New York City where Lincoln Center now stands.
  • In the film version, Robbins included the Shark boys in, “America” to make the scene more dynamic.
  • The King of Rock n’ Roll, Elvis Presley was originally considered for the role of Tony!

I won’t give any more juicy tidbits away.  Discover them for yourself!  Order the book on Amazon and then re-watch the film to get re-inspired by the stories, choreography, and masterpiece of “West Side Story!”

Dance for a Cure!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and here at BDC, we’re dancing for a cure! Join us for our 7th annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk Sunday, October 21 at 9 a.m. in Central Park.

Last October I participated in this event as a student of BDC’s Professional Semester. As part of the BDC Team, we organized a delicious bake sale, made fun posters, and choreographed a short routine to Katy Perry’s “Firework.”

On the morning of the Walk, I and nearly 40 BDC students clad in our light pink T-shirts claimed our space on the grass in Central Park, about midway through the Walk. We would cheer as walkers strode by – many of them even started dancing and singing along with us! When we got to our kick-line in the routine, walkers stopped to cheer us on, took photos with their cameras, and applauded. It was such a spectacular morning of support, love, and hope.

Last year alone, nearly $60 million dollars was raised by Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks across the United States.

Funds raised through Making Strides Against Breast Cancer support the American Cancer Society’s fight to end breast cancer. Specifically, these dollars are used to make a difference in the following ways:

  • Helping people take steps to reduce their risk of breast cancer or find it early when it is most treatable
  • Investing in research to find, prevent, treat, and cure the disease
  • Providing free information and services to help people facing breast cancer today – when and where they need it – including transportation, lodging, wigs, support programs, financial assistance, and more
  • Ensuring access to mammograms for women who need them, and encouraging lawmakers to pass laws to defeat breast cancer

You can participate this year by joining our team as a walker or a dancer or by donating to our team if you don’t live in New York City. All BDC Team walkers and dancers will receive a free Making Strides Against Breast Cancer T-shirt. You can also purchase these shirts in the BDC retail store (50% of the proceeds will go to our team!).