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

and 5, 6, 7, 8, SMASH!

Last night marked the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the premiere of NBC’s making-of-a-musical series, the “Great White Way of Hope” (LA Times) SMASH. Choreographed by Broadway Dance Center’s very own Josh Bergasse and starring many BDC dancers (did you spot Ricky Tripp in the baseball number?), the show boasts stars like Debra Messing (“Will and Grace”), Angelica Huston (“The Addams Family,” “Ever After”), Megan Hilton (“Wicked, the musical”) and Katherine McPhee(“American Idol”). The much-anticipated series which was honored in 2011 Critic’s Choice Awards as one of the “Most Exciting New Series,” accounts the making of a new Broadway musical about the life and legacy of Marilyn Monroe and shows that most of the “drama” occurs off stage, behind the scenes.

We hosted some pretty SMASH-ing events yesterday in honor of the show’s premiere. Kiira Schmidt, assistant to Josh Bergasse, taught a SMASH-inspired theater master class.

“The SMASH class was a blast; it was a privilege to not only work with someone soheavily involved in this new series, but to also get an inside look at the authentic choreography and put it on our own bodies.” – Lizz Picini (BDC student)

And at 10pm, BDC students and staff rushed to studio 4 to watch SMASH on a big-screen projector while munching on popcorn. The events were sponsored byLaDuca Shoes who gave away free dance shoe bags and even raffled off a pair of their beautiful character heels (also adorned by the dancers on SMASH)!

True story! While shopping for snacks at Food Emporium for our own SMASH premiere party, Emily Bass (Marketing/Events Coordinator @ BDC) ran into Katherine McPhee (star of SMASH) at the checkout line! McPhee obviously would have stopped by our BDC SMASH Extravaganza but she was planning for her own casual get-together with a few of her friends.

The baseball routine, “The National Pastime,” seemed to jump off the screen with its innovative choreography, clever humor, and talented performers. Keep your eye out for many other BDC-goers dancing in upcoming episodes!

“We have great dancers, very quick, very smart, very athletic. The music’s great – I saw my choreography have an entirely new life.” – Joshua Bergasse

So what are critics saying about SMASH? Take a look!

“The show seems to have a lot of promise, and the musical numbers dazzled.” –The Wall Street Journal

“Glee for grown-ups” – The Hollywood Reporter

“Quite the little sunbeam…endearing characters, an instinct for backstage meows and a firm grip on its own sense of camp control.” – The Washington Post

But we want to know what YOU thought! Share your opinion of the SMASH pilot by commenting on this post!

Audition Mission

You’ve been training hard in all of your classes at BDC and now you’re ready to start auditioning! But where do you begin?

Here we’ll help familiarize you with a few of the main casting call websites so you can get out there and audition!

  • $14.95/month (or you can purchase a weekly newspaper publication of Backstage)
  • auditions~musical theater, straight theater, cruise lines, theme parks, music video, commercials, TV/film, etc., search by field or location
  • online access to job listings, unlimited online submissions, individual profile (headshot, resume, reel, etc.), database of directors/agents/etc.
  • $8.33/month
  • auditions~music video, musical theater, cruise lines, theme parks, special events
  • online access to job listings (performer, choreographer, and teacher gigs worldwide) and agent auditions, individual profile, insider info (how-to create a resume, reel, etc.)
  • FREE!
  • auditions~musical theater, straight theater, cruise lines, etc.
  • job postings (performers, arts administrators, interns, directors, teachers, etc.)
  • $25/month (basic membership)
  • auditions~principal and extra roles
  • online access to job listings, individual profile, individual profile, database of photographers and demo reel creators, directories (agencies, casting directors, managers), online job submission
  • Free registration (but $2 per online submission)
  • auditions~straight theater, short films, feature films, music videos, “webisodes,” industrials, commercials
  • online access to job listings, individual profile, online submissions for jobs ($2 per submission)
  • FREE!
  • job postings (auditions, internships, choreography opportunities, volunteering)
  • auditions~concert dance/company auditions
  • *specific to jobs and opportunities in New York City

And All That Jazz: “Chicago” Master Class with David Kent

Our Professional Semester students were incredibly lucky to take a private master class fromDavid Kent, the dance captain for “Chicago,” the longest running American musical on Broadway.  The Pro-Sems learned the famous, timeless Fosse choreography to the opening number, “All That Jazz.”

What dance training did you have as a kid?
None! I started in college. I was an athlete; I had Olympic aspirations and wasn’t even going to go to college. I lived in the Olympic training center for ski racing for 4 years. The Olympics didn’t happen for me, but no regrets! I went to college at the University of New Hampshire and started to dance. I was terrible – but I got hooked. I made it my minor and learned, fast – hours and hours each day. My initial background was in modern and ballet. Somehow I got sucked into musical theater and never left.
Did you study voice and acting too?
Yes. Both… But my strength is dancing.
When did you move to New York City?
I am from Cazenovia, New York but didn’t move to New York City until I finished Graduate school at Boston University. Broadway auditions were always priority, but I went to anything and everything.
When was your “Chicago” audition?
I went to a couple. There were just a bazillion people there in the beginning, and I kind of just got lost in the shuffle. But then I had two submissions from my agency and got to the end of both auditions but never heard back. So I to went to one more required call and again got all the way through … but apparently at the time, there was no job to be had! When a position opened up, they called me but I had to turn it down because I was performing in “Romeo and Juliet: the rock musical.” Later on the position opened up with the first national tour and I was available to take it. After the movie came out I did the third national tour that I dance-captained for. Then I moved into the Broadway company and I started as dance captain after my first year there.
How did you become dance captain?
The previous dance captains in New York wanted to move on to other shows and projects. Its a very time consuming job and doesn’t really avail much freedom… So I took over for them.
What are your responsibilities as dance captain?
I’m 80% psychologist, 10% telling people where to stand and 10% teaching choreography. That’s probably an exaggeration… Maybe more like 33% of each is more like it…. There are  a lot of egos to balance. You need patience. You need to get a job done while being considerate and respectful to your cast mates. I have the responsibility to teach everybody – I teach the stars, I teach the ensemble, I teach and maintain the choreography and staging. I also handle the dance aspect of the audition process. My bosses are basically Annie Reinking, Gary Christ (dance supervisor), and Walter Bobbie (director).
Why do you think “Chicago” has been so successful as the “Longest Running American Musical?”
It is so well written (it was trimmed down from the 1976 version). It’s down to its basic minimum, its just good story telling. It’s staged to be a feast for the eyes and ears too. You cannot help but laugh at some of the scenes while at the same time feeling the effect of a sensual drive that can leave you squirming in your seat. “Oh ya, and we’re not really wearing anything!”
Do you think there was resurgence after the movie came out?
Definitely! It brought in a whole new audience. Before the movie, the audience was made up of an older, regular theater crowd. All of a sudden this young, excited group of teenagers/twenty-something’s started coming to the show. We also began casting current stars – Usher, Ashlee Simpson, Kara DioGuardi, Kevin Richardson…. people like that are a huge draw.
What is your opinion of contemporary movie musicals?
In general, I would much prefer them to tape the live shows and air them on PBS. But Rob Marshall did an excellent job on the film [of “Chicago”]. It’s a huge feat. People keep trying, but have only had moderate success in comparison to what he accomplished.
What is it like to be part of “Chicago,” a show that has become such an American icon, especially in the dance world?
It’s an honor. I’ve done over 4000 performances now. With that said, I don’t care how tired I am or how broken I am, the minute that Overture music starts the adrenaline kicks in and its a whole new game. I love performing that show. I’ve had opportunities to leave and do other projects but it’s never even a question…. No thanks, I’ll stick with Chicago. Particularly with this show, if you don’t feel inspired, you should give someone else a chance. It’s too important of a piece to be lazy or uninterested.
Why do you think “Chicago” was chosen as the theater master class for BDC’s Professional Semester?
“Chicago” has become an icon. I really want to pass on all the information that I can, at least in the context of the people who created and originally performed the work…Because with every generation it is going to get diluted or changed – everyone is going to have his or her own take on it. I think it’s important to pass this choreography on in the way that it was intended. Particularly because numbers like “All That Jazz” can become over-simplified, pedestrian – and it’s not like that. Its actually hard, if you know the specifics, if you know the back-story, if you know the intent of the whole number and the number with in the context of the show. Even though you’re moving slow… There is resistance… Like moving through a thick soup… And your internal motor is still running full speed!
What is your teaching approach?
I am a really positive person and I believe in encouraging people. Particularly with this sort of material where there’s going to be improv involved, I think you have to learn to be able to look at yourself and not be judgmental.  I’ve noticed over time that it is better to encourage students than to yell, “You’re not doing this or that right!” I can get that way in the show, you know, after someone’s been doing a hundred performances and is still not doing something the choreographer has asked – a little bit more “tough love.” But my approach is basically: get them warm and then start right away with the material. I don’t do a long choreographed warm-up, because that would be more about me. I want to teach as much of the material as I can and be as specific as I can. I want to encourage students to find ways to look at themselves without being judgmental beyond the lines they are trying to create.
What advice do you have for dancers who want to audition for “Chicago?”
Good question – there is actually an audition coming up! Okay, for the women, you’ve got to dress sexy and edgy without being (forgive my language) “a whore.” You have to be intriguing. I like hair down. But we all have our own opinions behind the table. Also, you know you’re going to improv in this audition – LESS IS MORE! Do your three or four eights of improv in your apartment and take the best eight count out of whatever that was and make that last the whole time – you will stand out. Also learn to check your dynamics. You can move really quickly for four counts and then super slow for twelve. Know where you’re looking and what you’re looking at. Lack of focus is a big deal. I talked at a cocktail party with one of Bob’s former dance captains from “Sweet Charity” and she said, “Nobody teaches focus anymore.” Good reminder for me to mention it all the time. Men – be men…. Be fluid with out being light and soft… You can even make up the character – you are the guy that every other guy wants to be and every girl wants to be with – but you’re not trying, you are thoroughly comfortable with yourself.
Be sure to “rouge your knees and roll your stockings down” for the “Chicago” audition!
March 19th at Ripley Grier
10:00am Women
2:00pm Men

Here’s what our Professional Semester students had to say about their master class with David Kent:

“I had not done a lot of broadway work and was feeling a bit insecure. After taking the Chicago Master Class I felt inspired and confident . The class gave me the insight that I could be any type of dancer/performer I choose to be . And dressing up was a blast!” – Lara Luzim

“Learning the “All that Jazz” choreography from David Kent was a dream come true! I can remember countless times when I would dance around my living room as a kid to “All That Jazz!” Being able to learn the original choreography with such a warm and positive person like David was very comforting. Before the master class I would of never had the confidence to go and audition for the show, but now I feel like I am Velma Kelly! The master class will forever be one of my favorite dance memories!” – Molly Day

This was the best experience I have had so far while being in the city. David Kent was so inspiring and helpful, and he gave me the confidence to really let go. I had learned this choreography once before, when my high school did a production of Chicago, but this was so awesome to learn the little details and tricks to transform the dance into “more than just movements”. I am so happy that I was given the opportunity to be a part of his class!” – Julia Udine

Having the opportunity to have a master class with David Kent, and learn the choreography to “All that Jazz” was phenomenal, and by far one of my favorite experiences living in the city. I took a master class from him this summer at BDC, but this particular class was so helpful because we had more time to learn about the character, quality of movement, and  audition process. It has been a life-long dream of mine to be in Chicago on Broadway, so being able to meet David Kent, and learn actual choreography from the show left me a little star struck. Now I feel confident that I can go out and make that dream come true!” – Lara Scott

I am not a musical theater dancer, but this class made me wish I was! I have always been a huge fan of Chicago so I was very excited when I found out we had the opportunity to work with David Kent. He definitely helped boost my confidence in the performance aspect of my dancing. I also really liked how we all dressed up for the class; I thought that was a lot of fun, and it really helped me get into character. This was definitely my favorite master class so far!” – Mollie Kuhn

Seize the Day! – Interview with Ricky Hinds, Associate Director for “Newsies” on Broadway

Before class I was able to sit down with Ricky Hinds for a quick interview – take a look!

What was your dance training like growing up?
I started dancing when I was four.  My aunt and uncle owned a dance studio in Connecticut so they pulled me in at a very, very young age.  So I grew up very heavy in the competition world, that’s all we did – tons of competitions.  My last three years of high school I went to Interlochen, a performing arts high school that was very strongly routed in ballet.  And then, since I’m from Connecticut, I would come to Broadway Dance Center all the time.  And then after I graduated high school I moved straight here to New York and just started auditioning and performing for about 5 years and then transitioned over to choreographing and directing.

Knowing that you wanted to pursue musical theater, did you also have voice and acting training growing up?
I started my voice training at my performing arts high school.  But back then, I feel you were sort of able to get away with being just a “dancer” in a Broadway show or musicals where now the casts are so small you have to do everything.

What was auditioning like when you first moved to New York City?
Not unlike what it is now.  I did two non-equity tours, “Fosse” and “CATS.”  And then I got my equity card doing the show “We Will Rock You,” the Queen musical in Las Vegas.  I did a couple regional productions too.  My big mentor in New York was Andy Blankenbuehler, so when I told him that I wanted to transition over into choreography he asked me to assist him on “It’s A Wonderful Life: the musical” at Papermill Playhouse.

What was it like to choreograph a brand new musical like “It’s A Wonderful Life” or “Newsies?”  You don’t have the influences of previous choreographers such as Fosse’s “Sweet Charity.”
I’m the associate director for “Newsies,” and we did months and months of pre-production where we worked to get everybody on the same page.  That’s the most important thing – that as a choreographer, you share the same vision as the director.  And it extends way beyond just the artistic team – it includes the lighting, set, and costume designers.  Everyone needs to be so clear that when we start rehearsals no one is questioning.  There’s a lot of trust and awareness.  I’ve also worked on projects where directors don’t work that way, however.  You know, where you’re flying by the seat of your pants! – but that can be fun too!  But for me, my personal process is a lot of prep, a lot of pre-production, a lot of communication – I do my best work in that atmosphere.


How did you transition into directing?
I kind of go back and forth between choreographing and directing.  The day after opening night for “Newsies” I fly down to Kansas City to choreograph a production of “Little Shop of Horrors.”  And I come back and I’m working as choreographer and director of a tour of “Jekyll and Hyde.”  So, it’s good – I don’t think I see myself as only a choreographer or only a director.  I also like a blend of the choreography and directing roles together so I am always active and involved.  “Jekyll and Hyde” will be interesting for me, though, because it will be more about the acting than about the big dance numbers with turns and high kicks.

You are in the midst of a really exciting time with the opening of “Newsies,” your first musical on Broadway.  What was the process like of taking a movie that, dare I say, flopped, and turning it into a musical?
Our new book writer is Harvey Fierstein and he was great; It just took somebody with fresh eyes coming in.  And the way Disney works is that they had done all these workshops and readings before they had attached a director or choreographer to it.  When we came on board, the entire show was written for a turntable…And our director said, “Absolutely not.” (Our biggest fear was that these boys with dirt on their faces in 1899, on a turntable, would look too much like “Les Mis”). And it was good to sort of start over a little bit.  Once we came in, we had about 9 months before we started auditioning people, so we really had a lot of time to prepare.  And then it wasn’t until we had our cast that we then developed it further – because everyone in the show has a line, has a character name, there’s no ensemble.  The cast that we have now have helped further the script.  It’s been quite a process, two years now – and we’re still making little tweaks here and there up until Thursday night’s opening.

What’s your opinion about having a cast without an ensemble and the idea that you can’t just be a dancer on Broadway anymore?
I think it’s fantastic.  What’s great about our director is that he made each actor write out a history of his or her character.  And then we all had to sit around and talk about these characters.  And I think as a dancer, it’s really gratifying to feel like you’re not just the fifth dancer from the left in the third line and you have to dance like everybody else.  I mean, there are certainly moments in the show where the dancing has to be clean and in unison, but there are other moments where it is more of “what would your character do here?” “how would your character react to this information?”  And I think at the end of the day that’s what we all want to do – have a voice, a personality, individuality.

How does “Newsies” compare to the other Disney shows that have been/still are on Broadway?
I think it’s great – it’s fun for people to come in with very little knowledge of the material of “Newsies.”  What was also a breath of fresh air for us was not having to be worried about “how is that fish going to swim?” or “how is that teapot going to pirouette?”  For Disney, I think, it was sort of a relief to have a show that’s all humans!

What are your goals for the future as an artist?

I think everyone has this sort of thought that Broadway is the ultimate.  For me, I think it’s just good theater – whether that’s Broadway or regional theater or a tour or in Europe or here.  I just want to do good theater.  You know, something that touches people, that people respond to.  I would love to only say that I’m going to do Broadway shows!  But I really have had so many amazing experiences at theaters all across the country.

Check out Ricky’s choreography reel.
And be sure to get your tickets to “Newsies!”

Where are they now?

Want to know what’s up with BDC’s Training Programs Alumni? Take a look and be amazed!

KEY: PS = Professional Semester, SIP = Summer Intern Program, ISVP = International Student Visa Program, TP = Training Program
  • Lexie Mollica (PS Fall ’11) is working as the backstage director for “Turn It Up Dance Challenge” competitions.
  • Matt Tremblay (PS Fall ’11) is heading a boys program at Downtown Dance Factory and was featured in TV commercials for Powerade and Bodyglide. Matt recently signed with Bloc Talent Agency.
  • Nicholas Caycedo (PS Fall ’11) was featured in the critically acclaimed Off-Off-Broadway premier of a new musical called, La Mama Cantata, celebrating the life of the late Miss Ellen Stewart, founder of La Mama E.T.C., by Tony-nominated composer-lyricist, Liz Swados. He also recorded a cast album which will be released shortly.
  • Jessica de la Cruz (PS Fall ’11) assisted Sheila Barker for BDC’s Winter Intensive.
  • Carissa Midkiff and Samantha Glennerster (PS Fall ’11) performed in Brice Mousset’s (BDC teacher) piece for the Peridance Faculty Showcase.
  • Rachel Ferretti and Emily Gallo-Lopez (PS Fall ’11) performed in BDC teacher, Jeremy McQueen’s company performance at Dancers Responding to Aids’ (DRA) “Dance From the Heart” event in January.  Both dancers will be heading out to sea on cruise ships soon;  Rachel will dance on Disney Cruise Line and Emily will perform on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

  • Olivia Conlin
     (PS Fall ’11) recently signed with Wehmann Agency for modeling and NUTS Talent Agency for acting in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  • Jenifer Dillow (PS Fall ’11) will perform as Belle on Disney Cruise Line and travel to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Canada, and New England. She completed her many musical theater auditions for colleges and has already received several merit scholarships.
  • Kelsey Netting (PS Fall ’11) will be pursuing a dance major at Loyola Marymount University next fall. She is currently continuing her dance studies through BDC’s Training Program.  Check out Kelsey in dance apparel advertisement in Dance Magazine.
  • Latoyia Everett (PS Fall ’11) is now a Norwegian Jade Dancer and was just asked to be Dance Captain. She is currently in Tampa, Florida practicing and then will leave to Barcelona, Spain at theend of February and will be at sea until September.
  • Mary Callahan (PS Fall ’11) recently signed with MSA Agency and will be dancing during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week and on tour with Lily Halpern. Mary is also pursuing a degree in Writing for Social Change at NYU.
  • Daniel Montera (PS Fall ’11) will be performing at the Smoky Mountain Opry in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, opening a brand new dance revue show.
  • Kristie Ergas (SIP ’11) will be performing in a cabaret show at Don’t Tell Mama’s called “Get Happy: The Great Depression Then And Now.”
  • Tori Simeone (SIP ’11) performed at Fashion Week for Tommy Hilfiger and danced for Cara Quici (keep your eye out for Tori on “The Real Housewives of NYC”).
  • Zanza Steinberg (PS Spring ’11) will be embarking on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines as a dancer. Zanza is also artistic director of Alma NYC Theater Company.
  • Stephanie Brooks (PS Spring ’11) is currently dancing with Atmosphere, a company of Project Dance and is the co-founder of Alma NYC Theater Company with fellow Pro-Semester alumni Zanza Steinberg. She is represented by MSA Agency and also teaches dance, pilates, and zumba in NYC.
  • Jessica Seavor (PS Spring ’11) is heading to Fireside Theatre to perform as Maria in “9 to 5: The Musical.”
  • Tal Schapira (PS Spring ’11) and Lizz Picini (SIP ’11) are assistants at Radio City Music Hall for the Rockette Experience and Rockette Summer Intensive.
  • Alison DeVita (PS Spring ’11) is performing as a dancer with Dublin Worldwide Productions in “Dancing Queen” and “The Spirit of Christmas.”
  • Lexi Dysart(PS Fall ’11) was accepted to the Young Choreographer’s Festival in New York City.Nikki Croker (PS Fall ’11) was recently signed to MSA Agency.
  • Alexa Erbach (PS Fall ’11) will be performing in a new musical entitled, “Jack’s Back” at T. Scheiber Studio. Along with performing in the ensemble, Alexa is also assisting choreographer, Bronwen Carson on the project.
  • Ankush Arora (ISVP 2011-’12) is teaching Latin Dancing and Bollywood in 3 institutes in India,Kolkata. After returning from BDC he was also invited to 4th Chennai Salsa Festival (India) as a guest choreographer to teach a salsa workshop.
  • Erica Day (ISVP 2010-2011) is performing as Dance Captain on Norwegian Cruise line and worked with choreographers Rachelle Rak and Tiger Martina.
  • Nicole Klerer(PS Fall ’10) is a New Jersey Devils Cheerleader and works at BDC as the Educational Programs Student Advisor.

You can find out more about BDC’s Training Programs by clicking here!

BDC February Performance Project

Performance Project, February 2012

A big “thank you” to all of the students who choreographed and performed in BDC’s February Performance Project.  Studio 5 was crowded with family and friends who came to watch our students showcase their original work in styles ranging from hip hop to vocal performance to contemporary.  We would also like to congratulate our three winners of the “Outstanding Student Award,” Malcolm Buchanan, Chris Stuewe, and Kyle Breen.“Being named outstanding student was such an honor, with all the hard work and dedication that each and every student puts into their classes and every day life to be pick out of such an amazing group is truly an amazing feeling. i can’t thank the staff and faculty of bdc enough as well as my friends for making these months what they have been.” – Chris Stuewe”I am humbled and honored to say that I was given the Outstanding Student Award for the month of March at my school (Broadway Dance Center). Yay!!! Unending thanks go to my fellow students who inspire me to stretch harder, balance longer, and take more classes; my many teachers who give me extra attention and push me in my abilities; my mentor Dorit Koppel who has been on me from the first class; and of course the administrators BonnieE, Autumn Dizzzzones, NikkiK, and Julie!!! You guys keep me going!!!” – Kyle Breen

For those of you who were unable to attend the Performance Project, take a look at some of the dances here:

Video 1 – Brazil
Video 2 – Dreamgirls Medley
Video 3 – Beyonce Hip Hop
Video 4 – Circus

The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries

Albert Einstein wrote that “Dancers are the athletes of the gods.”  Now, whether or not you’d consider dance to be a sport, I’m sure we would all agree that dance is extremely athletic, requiring stamina, strength, balance, and agility.  Still, dance is rarely given the same respect and acknowledgment as athletics.  I spent my freshman and sophomore years working as an assistant athletic trainer for my college’s sports medicine department.  As much as I loved (*sarcasm) taping stinky football players’ ankles, massaging sweaty track runners’ calves, and the like, I really chose this job because I could train with the physical therapy equipment (thera-bands, medicine balls, ultrasound machines) when the room was empty.  I can remember though, those few occasions when a dancer from our school’s nationally-ranked ballroom team would come to the training room.  Other athletes would scoff and even the trainers would not take the student’s injury seriously.
  • Dance Medicine/Science only became a field of study in the late 1970s/early 1980s.
  • The annual frequency of injury among dancers has been reported to range between 23-84% while as many as 95% of professional dancers have ongoing pain.(University Health Network, Toronto)
  • Statistics show that 80% of dancers incur at least one injury a year that affects their ability to perform – compared to a 20% injury rate for rugby or football players. (University of Wolverhampton)
  • 31% of ballet dancers have had, or will have, a stress fracture (Rudolf Nureyev Foundation Medical Website)
  • 24 % of ballet dancers (mainly female dancers) have a scoliosis (Rudolf Nureyev Foundation Medical Website)
  • Over 50% of dancers are uninsured and cannot afford medical treatment for injuries/illness.
When I said goodbye to sunny Southern California to take part in BDC’s Professional Semester, one of the first seminars we had was an orientation at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. The Harkness Center, associated with NYU’s Lagone Medical Center, provides preventative and restorative care for dancers.   These include physical therapy, sports medicine/athletic training, and injury prevention workshops and assessments.
The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries (HCDI) aims to:
  • provide excellent musculoskeletal healthcare to the dance community at affordable rates through a team of specialized medical professionals.
  • offer free, one-on-one prevention clinics for individual dancers
  • make available free or subsidized preventative and educational outreach programs for dancers, teachers, choreographers and administrators about the occupational, behavioral and mechanical factors associated with dance injuries.
  • assist the dance community with identification and reduction of injury risks
  • conduct ongoing research which advances the quality of dance science and improves the delivery of dance medicine.
  • establish standards of excellence for dance medicine practitioners.
  • interact with the dance community to minimize medical insurance costs.
  • provide continuing education opportunities for the medical community in the specialized area of dance medicine.
  • enhance the visibility of the dance medicine specialist within the dance and medical communities and in the general public.
  • serve on the boards and committees of national and international dance medicine associations and journals.
Injury Prevention Assessments:

“The Harkness Center offers one-hour, free-of-charge injury prevention assessments for dancers. During the injury prevention assessment session each dancer is seen individually for an hour by a therapist who reviews the dancer’s complaints, medical and nutrition histories and performance during a battery of tests. The screening is designed to evaluate the risk the dancer is exposed to and to discuss the dancer’s concerns before an injury occurs. At the conclusion of the assessment the dancer is given an individually tailored injury prevention exercise regime with recommendations for modification of their technique, training strategies, footwear and/or dance environment. The aim of the screening is to maximize each dancer’s potential for wellness.”

Interview with Leigh Heflin, administrative coordinator at the HCDI:
When was the Harkness Center founded? 
The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries (HCDI) was founded in 1989 in partnership with the Harkness Foundation for Dance and the Hospital for Joint Diseases in response to the New York dance community’s critical need for specialized and affordable health care.
Why is the Harkness Center different from a standard doctor’s office or physical therapy clinic?
HCDI caters to the unique treatment needs of the dancer. Our physicians and rehabilitative staff combine their medical and research experience with their expert knowledge of dance and dance science to provide highly specialized care to the dancer patient.
What services do you provide for dancers? 
We have many services including weekly dance clinics, physical therapy, FREE injury prevention assessments, injury prevention workshops, functional capacity screenings, ergonomic evaluations, etc. You can see a full list of our services with descriptions atwww.danceinjury.org.
  • Dance Clinic: The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries holds weekly dance clinics by appointment.  Dancers’ injuries are evaluated and treated by a specially trained team of orthopaedic surgeons, primary care sports medicine physicians, physical therapists and/or athletic trainers.
  • Physical Therapy & Athletic Training Services: The Harkness Center has a staff of physical therapists and athletic trainers specially trained to care for the dance population. These clinicians have had a minimum of two years of orthopaedic, sports medicine and manual therapy training and have participated in in-service training dealing with the occupational and psychological stressors of the dance environment.
  • Free Injury Prevention Assessments: The Harkness Center offers one-hour, free-of-charge injury prevention assessments for dancers. During the injury prevention assessment session each dancer is seen individually for an hour by a therapist who reviews the dancer’s complaints, medical and nutrition histories and performance during a battery of tests. The screening is designed to evaluate the risk the dancer is exposed to and to discuss the dancer’s concerns before an injury occurs. At the conclusion of the assessment the dancer is given an individually tailored injury prevention exercise regime with recommendations for modification of their technique, training strategies, footwear and/or dance environment. The aim of the screening is to maximize each dancer’s potential for wellness.
  • Injury Prevention Workshops: The Harkness Center provides injury-prevention lectures to community groups upon request. These programs are intended for dancers, teachers, parents, and/or management, as requested by the individual organization.  Topics can be chosen from a list of most-often requested, or custom-made to meet the specific needs of the school/company.   Examples of popular topics include: injury prevention, cross training, nutrition & hydration, pointe readiness, anatomy, and environmental safety.
What if a dancer does not have health insurance or the financial means to cover his/her treatment?
The NYU Langone Medical Center’s Hospital for Joint Diseases strives to provide medically necessary care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. The Hospital’s financial assistance program is available to New York State residents and individuals, regardless of residency, who receive emergency services and who formally demonstrate an inability to pay their hospital expenses.
Additionally, the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries offers financial assistance for dancers thanks to the LuEsther T. Mertz Advised Fund of the New York Community Trust who made a challenge gift in 1997 to the Center to create an endowment that would ensure a long-term solution for providing access to healthcare for dancers without insurance or financial means.
Both of these financial assistance programs require the dancer to formally demonstrate financial need by completing an application that includes submission of proof of income, savings and expenses.
What are the most common injuries you see in dancers?  What preventative measures can dancers take to avoid these injuries? You provide free one-on-one injury prevention screenings for dancers.  Why do you do this and what do the appointments consist of?
Injury type and occurrence will vary dependent on the genre of dance; however, most studies show that the foot and ankle are the most common injury site for dancers.  If you would like to prevent injury the best thing to do is to make sure you are taking care of yourself, cross training to properly prepare your body for the demands of dance technique and allowing enough time to rest. To learn more about your body and get exercises that might benefit your health and career longevity call HCDI to make an appointment for a FREE Injury Prevention Assessment at 212-598-6022.
Does the Harkness Center provide educational workshops for dance students and professionals?
Yes, to schedule an Injury Prevention Workshop please call 212-598-6022 and ask to speak to Leigh Heflin. She will help coordinate and plan a workshop specific to your school/companies needs.  (More info above under services).
What would you recommend to a dance that is interested in studying/pursuing a career in Dance Medicine?
Currently, dance medicine and science is only defined by the actions and ideas of various health professionals, dance educators, alternative practitioners, and researchers that practice in the area of dancer health. Each discipline brings a unique perspective and body of knowledge to the health concerns of dancers. This diversity of perspectives is rightly perceived as a strength. However, this diversity prevents a simple answer to the question, “How can I learn about dance medicine and science?” The short answer is, “It depends.” Students should be asked, “What unique skills, abilities, and knowledge do you currently possess and which ones do you want to acquire? Precisely how do you see yourself contributing to dancer health?” Focusing on the students learning objectives will clarify which discipline associated with dance medicine and science they should pursue.

For a listing of possible careers please visit the HCDI website (http://hjd.med.nyu.edu/harkness/dance-medicine-resources/what-dance-medicine-and-science/career-overviews)


To schedule your free injury prevention assessment at the Harkness Center, call 212-598-6022.

Sonya Tayeh comes to BDC

The studio’s been abuzz all week in anticipation of contemporary classes with Sonya Tayeh, who is best known for her inventive, combative jazz/contemporary choreography on “So You Think You Can Dance.” Tayeh has described her unique style as “combat jazz,” because “[i]t’s staccato, aggressive, and engaged, even when it’s slow. I’m always ready for battle.”

All of Tayeh’s classes sold out hours before their scheduled time, and with crowds of wait-listed students watching at the windows, it was clear that the BDC community had been captivated by the quirky choreographer.

“From the moment Sonya entered the classroom, she commanded each and every single student’s 100% undivided attention and pushed us all to be better dancers than ever before. The energy and inspiration in the room was nothing I have ever experienced before. Her choreography, her warm up, her “words” – everything was out of this world! Everyone you talk to will tell you that a single dance class with Sonya will change your life. She’s a genius.” – Daniel Montera
“It was one of the most inspiring classes I’ve taken in a long time. She’s one of the strongest women I’ve met and she will push you to your ‘limit,’ only to find that you have no limit and are capable of anything.” – Megan O’Leary

We hope to have Ms. Tayeh back to teach many more classes here at BDC!