New Studios! New Schedule!

On Saturday, April 29th, Broadway Dance Center celebrated the opening of its new studio space – including two floors, a large marley-floored studio, a tap studio, and a bigger retail store.

With this additional space, BDC is thrilled to be able to offer many more classes, teachers, and styles of dance – Zumba, Partnering, Body Percussion, and more!

The “Grand Opening” party welcomed BDC faculty and staff to mix and mingle in the new space.  Additionally, the night included performances from BDC’s Children and Teen Program, International Student Visa Program, Professional Semester, the hit TV show “Smash,” and Parsons Dance Company.

“It’s so nice to have more space, not to mention, have many more classes…especially tap, which up until now, we weren’t allowed to offer until after 5pm. The studios are beautiful, very well designed, and have their own nice touches. From the colorful lighting in Studio A, to the cubby holes, to the columns, which many of us have lovingly nicknamed ‘Big Ben.'” – Annie Ellersten (Work Study)

“It’s a fun addition to the already-fabulous studios. I love the floor, it makes barefoot dancing so smooth. And having the countless new classes is awesome!” – Katherine Boese (Professional Semester)

“I am absolutely thrilled that BDC has expanded. The new studios are beautiful and the additional space is wonderful. Additionally, I consider myself very fortunate to manage such a beautiful retail store surrounded by students eager to dance in the new space. We are proud to call this studio ‘home.'” – Lizz Picini (Retail Store)

Check out all of the added classes here!

Hard times on Broadway for the Hard of Hearing

Laura Grasso anxiously arrived at the Chernuchin Theater, one of the three venues of the 54th Street American Theater of Actors.  It was 7:30 p.m., which allowed her plenty of time to search for her seat and flip through the fresh-pressed Playbill before the curtain was to rise.

The theater was dim and intimate, with only 140 seats staring straight at the stage.  Her knees knocked against the seat in front of her and she tried to stealthily maneuver her elbows without disrupting her neighbors’ on the narrow armrests.  But at $20 a ticket, the compact confines of the Chernuchin were all part of the experience.

As theatergoers carefully shuffled to their seats, the audience’s anticipatory chatter buzzed throughout the black box.  She was excited for the show, the Tragedians of the City and Northwest Passage Theater Collective’s rendition of “Romeo and Juliet.”  The off-Broadway production was to stay true to the play’s authentic performance, with Early Modern English dialogue and an all-male cast.

But for Grasso, one of the 278 million people worldwide who have moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears, the experience was a disappointment.

“It was a good thing I knew the story of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ because 90 percent of the time I felt like I missed a lot of the dialogue,” Grasso said.

At a young age, Grasso was diagnosed with bilateral, moderately severe sensorineural hearing loss. SNHL occurs when there is damage to one’s cochlea (inner ear) or to the nerves connecting the cochlea and the brain.  SNHL can rarely be medically or surgically treated, and while many patients use hearing aids to increase the volume of everyday sound, SNHL has a tendency to obfuscate speech.

“No, we don’t provide assisted listening devices,” replied the phone representative from the American Theater for Actors.  He snickered, “The Theater is small.  The audience is only about two feet from the stage, it’s very loud.”  But 90 percent of Americans with hearing difficulties – 7 percent of the entire US population – suffer from SNHL, where the issue is not so much volume as it is clarity.

“It was so exhausting that I eventually just had to sit back and watch, taking it in visually,” Grasso said.  “There is a difference between active and passive listening. Passive listening is what people are able to do, like breathing, it just happens naturally, effortlessly.  But hard of hearing individuals are required to listen actively, diligently identifying and processing sound and speech in order to fully comprehend a scene.”

An experienced freelance writer and content strategist, Laura Grasso began working as the Foundation and Corporation Gifts Manager at the Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC) in New York City in February of 2011.  The CHC is a comprehensive clinic that provides hearing-related healthcare services such as hearing tests, hearing aids and assistive devices, and speech and language therapy. The CHC also sponsors outreach and public education projects to increase social awareness.

“I love theater and I would go much more frequently if it were more accessible to me,” Grasso said.

The Americans with Disabilities Act outlines that “Places of public accommodation must provide assistive listening systems, interpreters and other auxiliary aids unless it would constitute an ‘undue burden’ or ‘fundamental alteration’ of their services.”  Though some theaters like the Chernuchian do not offer assisted listening systems, most Broadway theaters do provide the technology.

But hearing loss is different from vision loss.  There is no numerical prescription – both the impediment and the treatment are individual.

“I know that assisted listening devices have helped a lot of people enjoy the theater experience, but they don’t work for everyone,” Grasso said.  Grasso saw “Billy Elliot: the musical” last year with her mother, who is also hard of hearing.  Grasso noted, “We used the assisted listening devices, but while the sound was louder, the dialogue was still muffled and slightly delayed.”

In 2003, the American Sign Language ASL version of “Big River” came to Broadway’s Roundabout Theatre Company.  Deaf West Theatre in North Hollywood created the adaptation in 2001, featuring both mainstream and deaf actors who signed the entire show while speaking, singing, and dancing.

While the ASL rendition of “Big River” was a success, teaching an entire Broadway cast to sign may not be the most efficient way to make a show accessible, especially for a show where performers must dance and sing simultaneously.  However, ASL is still employed to make Broadway more accessible.  The New York City-based non-profit organization Hands On produces up to thirty ASL-interpreted Broadway and off-Broadway performances each year.

As of Spring 2010, movie theaters in the United States became obligated to offer closed-captioning.  Most theaters opt for the Rear Window Captioning System, an inexpensive individual technology that projects subtitles of both the dialogue and action of a scene from the back of the theater onto a small mirror held by an audience member.  Captioning mandates, however, do not apply to live theater.

Captioned Broadway performances do exist, if you’re willing to seek them out.  The Theater Development Fund’s Access for Young Audiences program invites hard of hearing students to select, free Broadway matinee performances that are outfitted with both ASL interpreters and open-captioning on large screens on either side of the stage.

While Laura Grasso has not attended an ASL-interpreted or open-captioned Broadway show, she has experienced the technology in other live arts venues.  The CHC hosts a comedy night as a fundraiser for its outreach projects, public education and clinical services for the hard of hearing population in New York City.  This event is the only completely aurally accessible comedy performance in the city, boasting both ASL sign language interpretation and open-captioning.

“The comics are hilarious,” Grasso said.  “They make the accessibility part of the show by having the sign-language interpreters translate really silly or vulgar jokes.  And I didn’t find the ASL or captioning distracting because of their integration with the performance.”

Grasso is excited to attend “Tribes,” an off-Broadway play that explores the life of a deaf man and his struggle to be understood.  After receiving pressure from the hard of hearing community, the theater added open-captioned showings through the Theatre Development Fund.

Yet such synergy of accessibility and story line is unrealistic for most Broadway shows, and both ASL interpretation and open-captioning can be distracting to mainstream audiences.

The concept of closed-captioning has crept its way into a few progressive theaters that line the lighted Broadway.  Sound Associates, Inc. has provided assisted listening devices to Broadway audiences for over thirty years and recently developed I-Caption personal closed-captioning for deaf and hard of hearing patrons.

Sound Associates, Inc.’s I-Caption is “a state of the art wireless visual aid that provides verbatim closed captions in real time for live theatrical performances or public events.  This fully automated system displays dialogue, lyrics, and sound effects on a handheld display, assisting the hearing impaired patron to better understand the plot of a theatrical production or public event.

“The beauty of live performance is that no show is the same,” said Mark Annunziato, Vice President of Operations at Sound Associates, Inc.  “I-Caption is automated, timed to the show. The technology utilizes show controls like lighting, sound, music and set change cues to stay in real time with the show.”

The technology exists – but real implementation of the technology is another story.  Currently only four of the forty Broadway shows are fully equipped with I-Caption.  Not surprisingly, these four theaters house the most popular and profitable musicals: “The Book of Mormon” at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, “Jersey Boys” at the August Wilson Theatre, “Wicked” at the Gershwin Theatre, and “Mamma Mia!” at the Cadillac Winter Garden Theatre.

“It’s not cheap,” Annunziato said of the technology, which runs between five and six hundred dollars per device.  “Production has to pay for the implementation of I-Caption.  Some shows like ‘Jersey Boys’ expect a long run and can upfront the costs, but that’s not usually the case.”

Captioning for movies is different, a lot easier and a lot cheaper.  Movies are in time code — they run digitally or on film at a set time.  Captions can just be added as a layer on top of the media because everything happens in specific time and space.

Mandating I-Caption for live theater would require a lot of money, both to pay for the technology itself and to hire specialized staff.  Most movies undergo at least a year of editing before they are released in theaters.  I-Caption has a much quicker turn-around – implementation can only begin after a Broadway show has gone through technical rehearsals with lighting, sound, music and set change cues organized.  And once the show opens, cues often change – lead actors switch, a music number is added, among other possible changes – and I-Caption must adapt as well.

In 2005 Sound Associates, Inc. was presented with the Secretary’s Highest Recognition Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Yet seven years after the inception of I-Caption, 90 percent of Broadway theaters remain aurally under-accessible.

“We keep making advancements to lower the costs,” Annunziato said. “We’re fine-tuning the technology so that we can speed up the process of implementation from a few months to a few weeks. It’s not a moneymaking venture; it’s about opening doors to audiences through technology.  We feel that every performance should be accessible for everyone, at every show, in every seat.”

“I do hope to see a Broadway performance with I-Caption technology because I would really understand what was going on,” Laura Grasso said. “Yet like subtitles of a film, I worry that the captioning would be visually distracting from the action of the scene.”

I-Caption has received its share of criticism from theater patrons.  I-Caption devices are near field (close), and a person’s eyes have to adjust from looking at the screen to looking at the stage.  Critics claim that ASL interpreters or open-captioning near the stage are less distracting and do not disclose if audience members have disabilities.

Recently, Sound Associates, Inc. has been working to equip Sony’s new subtitle eyeglasses with I-Caption services for live theater.  Though still a physical device, these new subtitle specs are sure to spark a new wave in live theater accessibility.

Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister Program

Studio 10D at Ripley-Grier was abuzz with excitement – it was the final rehearsal of the 2012 Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister program.  The students from Broadway Dance Center’s Children and Teen Program were clad in color coordinated T-shirts matching their Broadway star big brother or sister.

In the center of the room, “little orange” was teaching her Big Sis a complicated handshake like the one in “The Parent Trap.”  “Big blue” was stage left, reviewing choreography with her “mini me.”

At 9:15pm sharp, Lainie Munro, founder and choreographer of the Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister Program, called “places” for the final run-through.

The jazzy song began, “Dancin’ Fool” from Copacabana, and the dancers began tap-dancin’ away.  The energy of the room was as bright as the dancers’ neon T-shirts.  Each pair of siblings got a chance to strut their stuff on stage before the entire cast broke into unison.  Their tapping feet and smiling faces seemed so contagious that the audience of parents found themselves clapping and cheering along with the dancers.

“I’m having a lot of fun!” said Ayonna, a Little Sister.  “Lainie pushed me further than I knew I could go as a dancer.”

Ms. Munro does challenge the young dancers with complex tap technique and character choices – but the kids step up to the plate and shine next to their Broadway siblings.

“I’m a big sister – I was always teaching my little sister and rehearsing her.  I guess I was born to be a teacher!” said Munro, who also teaches tap and theater classes at Broadway Dance Center.  “But I always longed for a big sister, or mentor, of my own to show me the ropes of becoming a Broadway performer.”

After performing in national tours and regional theaters across the country, Ms. Munro started working at Broadway Dance Center in the Children and Teen’s Program (CTP).  “It was there,” said Munro, “that I realized how talented those young dancers were and was motivated to match the kids up with professional Broadway mentors.”

Inspired by the original Big Brother/Big Sister Program, Ms. Munro founded the Broadway Big Brother/ Big Sister Program in 2001 to provide aspiring young performers ages 9-17 a unique opportunity to work with Broadway professionals one-on-one, through rehearsals and performance of a production number.

“The children gain an invaluable experience,” said Munro.  “They learn about performing/acting with a partner, staging, and professional work ethics. They learn a lot about the ‘business’ of show business and the hard work and discipline involved in making a career as a professional performer.”

“Lainie is the best – there’s truly no one like her,” said Marie, whose daughter, Mariah is in her final year at BDC’s CTP and will be heading to study pre-med at Drew University next fall.  “Lainie brings out the best in her dancers.  If you watch Lainie’s class, you think you’re watching a Broadway rehearsal.”

It is no surprise that Ms. Munro was selected as a finalist for the 2003 Woman’s Day Magazine Awards, “Women That Inspire Us”, for her work with the Broadway Big Brother/ Big Sister Program.

After an audition in the spring, children from BDC’s CTP are selected and matched with a professional dancer whose own personality, style and interests compliment the child – a true “Big Brother” or “Big Sister.”

“It’s a very personal process,” explained Munro. ” I start with picking the kids and then I go out into the theater community and try to match each kid with a performer.   I’ll call up friends or e-mail performers I’ve seen in shows or deliver a letter to the stage door.”

“Even his mom thinks Henry and I are brothers,” said Jeremy Benton, who starred in Broadway’s “42nd Street” and “The Producers” film.  “When I dance with him, I get flashbacks to when I was his age.  It’s such a gratifying experience.  And Henry’s a great little tapper – I have to work to keep up with him!”

The children meet on 4 Sunday evenings (a total of just 8 hours), rehearsing side-by-side with their Big Brother or Big Sister.  The program is entirely volunteer-based and the professionals from the Broadway and NY dance community donate their time and talent to mentor and dance with a child or teenager.

Since the Program’s inception in 2001, 115 Broadway dancers have participated as Big Brothers and Sisters. Many Little Brothers and Sisters have already gone on to professional careers in dance, such as one of this year’s Big Sisters, Gabrielle Salvatto (Dance Theatre of Harlem, Juilliard grad and Little Sister alum 2001) and Lily Balogh (New York City Ballet and Little Sister alum 2004).

“I am so proud of my daughter, Amanda,” said her father, Luis.  “Amanda has dreamt of becoming a dancer ever since we relocated to New York from Puerto Rico.  Her confidence and joy have increased so much.  The Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister program is an incredible opportunity for her, a step closer to her dream to dance on Broadway.”

We are thrilled to announce the 2012 cast of the Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister Program!

2012 Big Brothers and Sisters:

JEREMY BENTON

SUMMER BROYHILL

DENA DIGIACINTO

KELLY JACOBS

JULIA KNITEL

LEA KOHL

MICHELLE LOUCADOUX

DANELLE MORGAN

JANELLE NEAL

GABRIELLE SALVATTO

Collectively the above performers are currently appearing in or have appeared in the following Broadway shows and dance companies:

42ND STREET (Broadway Revival and 1st National Tour)

ANYTHING GOES

MARY POPPINS (Broadway and 1st National Tour)

A CHORUS LINE (Revival)

WHITE CHRISTMAS (1st National Tour)

BYE BYE BIRDIE

HAIRSPRAY

THE LITTLE MERMAID

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (1st National Tour)

THE PRODUCERS (movie)

DANCE THEATRE OF HARLEM

and

THE RADIO CITY ROCKETTES

The Little Brothers and Sisters range in age from 9 years old to 17 years old, and are enrolled in BDC’s Children/Teen Program:

SOFIE ABBOUD

CHEYENNE DIXON

MARIAH EUGIENIA FERRANTE

KATARINA FRADENBURG

HENRY HECHT-FELELLA

IRELAND HORAN

ANGELICA LOPEZ

AMANDA MARRERO

AYONNA SULLIVAN

MAYA WRIGHT

Lainie Munro’s Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister Program in New York City will perform in the “Choreographer’s Canvas” on Thursday May 10 at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center at 8:30pm; and also in the Broadway Dance Center Student Showcase Sunday May 13th at Symphony Space at 4:30pm and 8pm.

**For tickets, visit http://www.choreographerscanvas.com and http://www.broadwaydancecenter.com.**

If you are interested in auditioning for the program, volunteering as a Big Brother or Sister, or booking this year’s cast for a performance, please contact Lainie Munro at: Lainie@LainieMunro.com

I Want to Be a Rockette! – The Rockette Experience

If you’ve ever had dreams of performing in the Christmas Spectacular as one of the famous Radio City Rockettes, here’s your chance to experience the magic!

The Rockette Experience gives students an inside look into the world of The Radio City Rockettes.

The Experience starts with a  3-hour workshop taught by a Radio City Rockette where you will learn tap, jazz, and the world-famous Rockette kick line choreography.  You will also get to go through a “mock audition,” and have a Q&A session and Photo Op with a Rockette.  Then take the amazing Stage Door Tour of Radio City Music Hall and get tickets to see the Christmas Spectacular,  “#1 holiday show in America” — live, on stage**!

“The Rockette Experience provides valuable insight into the meticulous and exacting precision technique. Dancers are afforded the opportunity to learn authentic choreography from a Rockette and get to hone their audition skills in a non-judgmental environment.” – Tal Schapira, BDC Professional Semester alumni and assistant for the Rockette Experience

“The Rockette Experience provides each aspiring student an exciting opportunity to dance for a day in the heels of a Radio City Rockette and brings them one step closer to actually achieving that dream.”  – Lizz Picini, BDC Summer Intern Program alumni and assistant for the Rockette Experience

Requirements: Dancers must be ages 10 and up and have previous dance training in tap and jazz.  All dancers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

2012 Spring/Summer dates for the Rockette Experience:
Saturday, April 7
Saturday, April 14

Saturday, May 19
Saturday, May 20
Saturday, May 26
Sunday, May 27

Saturday, June 2
Sunday, June 3
Saturday, June 9
Sunday, June 10
Saturday June 16
Sunday, June 17
Saturday, June 23
Saturday, June 30

Saturday, July 7
Saturday, July 14
Saturday, July 21
Saturday, July 28

Saturday, August 4
Sunday, August 5
Saturday, August 11
Sunday, August 12

For more information on The Rockette Experience, Broadway Dance Center, registration materials, please contact Megan Shuffle at (212) 582-9304 Ext. 79 or email your questions to Rockette@bwydance.com.

**Tickets to the Christmas Spectacular are only available during the show’s November/December season.

Dancers Without Borders: BDC goes to Australia

Check out this article from “Dance Informa,” written by our own  Bonnie E. Erickson, Director of Educational Programming at Broadway Dance Center:

As Broadway Dance Center master theater teacher Jim Cooney and I looked around the room, we saw lovely young dancers standing in groups with other dancers in the identical leotards of their respective studios, with arms crossed, hips out, and expressions of trepidation – we looked at each other and smiled: a beautiful blank canvas for our work!

Jim and I had come to Australia for two weeks of workshops in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast, and we were excited to bring our message of kindness between dancers, of supporting one another in the classroom, at the audition, and on the stage to Australia’s dancers, and especially to fellowship with other dance educators to bring the dance world ever closer. Jim is the Faculty Advisor for our Educational Programming and I am the Director of Educational Programming at BDC – in these roles, Jim and I teach this message to all the dancers who come through our full-time programs at BDC, creating dancers who are “Happy to be here, and ready to work!” – a quote I must properly attribute to the extraordinary Lucille DiCampli of MSA dance agency, with whom we work on our mock auditions.

At each of the eight workshops we taught, it was exhilarating to watch these dancers go around the room, shaking hands with other dancers to get acquainted and to get past their fears, and then expanding that energy as they learned Jim’s wonderful musical theater choreography to cheer for one another, to see their hearts and minds open, and to see them fully enthralled in the joy of dance.

We were fortunate enough to secure a segment on Australia’s popular television show The Circle, and at the behest of the show’s producers, Jim quickly put together a flash mob for the show, recruiting dancers we’d met at our Melbourne workshops through the lovely directors of the studios The Space and Dancescape to perform on the show. It was so gratifying to be able to immediately put into practice that which we’d taught them – life is the audition, and you never know what might lead to a gig in this industry, and quite simply being nice can get you the job.

After each of the workshops we had a talk-back with the students, answering their questions about Broadway Dance Center and New York, especially excited to announce the planned opening in April of two new studios on the first and second floors of the building, bringing us to seven state-of-the-art studios. The students were, as you can imagine, ecstatic to imagine a schedule of over 300 classes a week in ballet, contemporary, jazz, theater, hip-hop, tap, yoga, pilates, flexibility, belly-dancing, acting, Latin, partnering, and so many more. We also spoke of our new offerings, the Original Broadway Choreography Series, the Contemporary Variations Series, our Industry Insider Series, and the exciting introduction of Parsons Dance in Residence at BDC.

While BDC’s main demographic is and always has been the walk-in dancer — New Yorkers and others who come in and simply sign up for whatever classes they want to take that day — we’re also home to four full-time programs: the International Student Visa Program, the largest and eldest of the programs; the BDC Training Program, its counterpart for American dancers of varying levels; and our two professional elite training programs for US dancers, the Summer Intern Program and the Professional Semester. The students of the ISVP hail from more than 35 countries worldwide, and comprise a vibrant community of talented, multicultural dancers who take 12 classes weekly, enjoy special master classes, rehearsals, and performances, the benefit of a full-time staff, including a student advisor, as well as one-on-one faculty mentoring. They join us for three months, six months, or a year initially, and then can extend their programs for up to three years. It is quite simply a joy to watch these students progress as they study closely with our world-class faculty, many of whom are working choreographers — often they offer the students incredible performance opportunities available only through their participation in the program.

A recent graduate of the ISVP, Jess Orcsik, is herself a studio owner in Sydney, Australia, an ambitious young entrepreneur, as well as a lovely dancer indeed. Jess loved her time at BDC, as do of course virtually all our students, and upon her return to Australia felt that the training she’d received at BDC was so powerful that she wanted to find a way to share it with the dancers of her country, perhaps during shorter visits to New York. When she contacted me with her idea, we jumped at the chance to work with her to develop The Australian Intensive, a program designed by Jess through her J.O. International Productions, whereby groups of young dancers can come to BDC to study intensively in a similar structure to the rigorous ISVP course.

As a longtime Australiophile — I have a sister who lives in Yeerongpilly, Brisbane — I had a trip planned to take a respite from New York’s winter months to the lovely Aussie summer, and so in chatting to Jess about my trip, it became obvious to both of us straightaway that we ought to combine pleasure with business and offer some workshops and do some outreach into the burgeoning dance community of Australia. We’ve had many Aussie dancers in the ISVP through the years, and have been delighted to watch them getting better and better — the training in Australia is clearly on the rise; we’ve had gorgeous dancers like Amy Campbell from So You Think You Can Dance and Dena Kaplan from Dance Academy come through the program, and we’re seeing more and more dancers of their caliber apply to the program.

I like to think that the founder of BDC, the late Richard Ellner, would feel that his dream of one all-encompassing studio, with the best dance faculty in the world, offering the finest dance instruction at all levels for all people who want to dance, a veritable “home away from home” for dancers, is indeed thriving here in the heart of the Broadway theater district. Even more, I hope he’d feel proud to see that rather than resting on our laurels, we’re all working hard to further this dream and welcome ever more dancers from around the world into the BDC-red hallways of our studios. It is now ever more important to all of us at BDC that we be inspiring the world to dance!

Zoe visits BDC!

Dressed to the nines in bright tutu skirts, pigtail braids, and multicolor tights, students from Leggz Ltd. Dance in Rockville, NY anxiously awaited the arrival of their special guest teacher for a master class at Broadway Dance Center.  That special teacher was Zoe, Elmo’s ballet-dancing buddy from Sesame Street.

As the tiny toddlers sat with their legs dangling off the bleachers, one girl tugged on my shirt and asked where Zoe was.  I quickly responded, “She’s on her way!”  “Parking her car?” Replied the curious child.  “She just got off the subway.” I answered.  Before I could get myself in any real trouble from the girl’s questions, a bright orange fluffy ballerina turned the corner.  “ZOE!” screamed all the little girls as they jumped up to give Zoe a huge hug.

And the cuteness commenced!  After a quick warm-up, the dancers practiced their model walks across the studio and learned a sassy jazz combination.  Watch these adorable videos of the Leggz Ltd. dancers (and Zoe) showing off their best moves!

Zoe comes to BDC

The State of NYC Dance

Dance/NYC held the “State of NYC Dance” Symposium on Sunday, February 26th at Gibney Dance Center.  Our PR Director, April Cook, and our Marketing Director, Emily Bass, were two of the nearly two hundred industry attendees.  Several BDC students also volunteered at the event by checking-in guests and speakers, monitoring the panel discussions, and directing attendees to the various breakout sessions.

The jam-packed day investigated the current state of dance in New York City and provided panel discussions and networking opportunities for artists, advocates, funders, policymakers, managers, scholars, and audiences.  One of the six beautiful studios at the Gibney Dance Center housed Dance/NYC’s SmART Bars, 30-minute individual consultations with arts consultants regarding topics of business administration, technology, advertising, and fundraising.  The symposium also included movement classes with Andrea Miller, Sarah Donneley, Patrick Corbin, and Doug Elkins.

Dance NYC’s recent Symposium on the state of NYC dance was incredibly enlightening. It is so important for us to continue our efforts in the growth of our community and I am thankful to Dance NYC for providing the platform for related discussions and the building of relationships. Thank you to all who were involved!” – Emily Bass (BDC Marketing/Events Coordinator)”I greatly appreciated Dance NYC’s efforts and Gibney Dance Studio’s hospitality in bringing the dance community together to discuss current topics in our field. The “Meet the Press” panel was one of the highlights of the day for me. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to hear from dance critics and their views on what their roles and responsibilities are to the choreographer, the dancer and the audience member.” – April Cook (BDC Public Relations)

Visit Dance/NYC’s website to learn more about this year’s symposium and sign-up to volunteer or attend next year’s incredible event!

Read All About It!

You’re sitting in the holding room for three hours at an Equity call waiting to (hopefully) get the chance to audition. Here’s a list of some great dance-related books to help you pass the time:

The Artist’s Way (Julia Cameron) is a self-help book to help artists cultivate self-confidence and harness their creative talents. The chapters correlate to a 12-week course which provide resources and techniques that foster artistic inspiration.

All His Jazz: The Life and Death of Bob Fosse (Martin Gottfried) is a thorough biography of Tony, Emmy, and Oscar-winning choreographer, Bob Fosse. Gottfried artfully accounts Fosse’s life experiences which later served to inspire his innovative style.

The Dancer’s Way: The New York City Ballet Guide to Mind, Body and Nutrition (Linda H. Hamilton) describes the wellness program at NYCB that was created to support the physically healthy, emotionally balanced, and mentally prepared dancer in achieving his or her goals and aspirations.

Time Steps: My Musical Comedy Life (Donna McKechnie) is the autobiography of Donna McKechnie who inspired and performed the role of “Cassie” in “A Chorus Line.” Her book recounts the roller-coaster career filled with unbelievable successes and disappointments that shaped her as an artist.

Steps in Time (Fred Astaire) is an autobiography of the legendary Fred Astaire (with a great little forward by his dancing partner, Ginger Rogers).  The memoir is honest and full of personal anecdotes (and nearly 50 amazing black and white photographs!).

Dance with Demons: The Life of Jerome Robbins (Greg Lawrence) tells the tale of the “nightmare genius” (Tony Walton).  While Robbins is remembered for his legendary works including West Side Story, Gypsy, and Fiddler on the Roof, his life was plagued with religious, political, and personal conflict.

Ballet and Modern Dance: A Concise History (Jack Anderson) describes the role of dance in history from the time of the Ancient Greeks and French royal courts all the way to contemporary modern and jazz styles.

Diet for Dancers: A Complete Guide to Nutrition and Weight Control (Robin D. Chmelar) was the first published nutritional guide based on research and outlining topics specific to dancers.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation (Jeff Chang) provides an extensive overview of the evolution of Hip Hop and its influence as a social and cultural movement.

That’s the Joint: The Hip Hop Studies Reader (Mark Anthony Neal) discusses the gender, racial, social, and political impact of Hip Hop in the United States.

Books on my reading list:
I Was a Dancer (Jacques d’Amboise)
Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology (Karen Clippinger)
TAP! The Greatest Tap Stars and Their Stories 1900-1955 (Rusty Frank)
On the Line: The Creation of A Chorus Line (Robert Viagas)
Alvin Ailey: A Life in Dance (Jennifer Dunning)
Gene Kelly: A Life of Dance and Dreams (Alvin Yudkoff)
Buzz: The Life of Busby Berkeley (Jeffrey Spivak)

Feel free to comment with your reading suggestions!