Broadway Dance Center has always been Al Blackstone’s home away from home. His teachers, mentors, and experience as a student helped shape him into the educator he is today. Since his first class in 2011 with just a few students, Al now packs the room no matter when he’s teaching. Beyond that, his courage to share his talent, vulnerability, charm, and lovable goofiness has created an undeniable ripple effect throughout the industry, challenging our preconceived notions about what ‘musical theater’ means, and how we can cultivate the energy of a dance class. Being a teacher or performer doesn’t mean masking who you are to portray someone or something else–quite the opposite, actually. It requires tapping even deeper into who you are in order to create a more meaningful connection with others, whether it’s your audience, dance partner, students, or fellow peers in class.
If you don’t know the name “Richard Ellner”, you should. He is the man behind Broadway Dance Center and the reason why we’re able to enjoy dozens of fun classes with working choreographers and well-known teachers each week. Ellner was a life-long lover of the performing arts, although he didn’t take a dance class himself until the age of 52! He had visions of a home for dance in the heart of NYC, where dancers could receive diversified training from the best in the business, all under one roof. So, 35 years ago, in 1984, Ellner founded BDC.
To honor Ellner’s legacy and contribution to the dance community, BDC has announced recipients of the Richard Ellner Scholarships, awarded to three students of BDC’s Professional Semester Program. The generous Scholarships will cover half and full tuition costs for these dancers. Here, get to know the scholarship recipients and why they’re so thrilled to be training at BDC.
Broadway Dance Center would like to thank all of the amazing teachers who hosted benefit classes in support of victims of Hurricane Sandy.
- Al Blackstone
- Justin Boccitto
- Jacob Brent
- Cat Cogliandro
- Jim Cooney
- Ginger Cox
- Ashle Dawson
- Chris Erk
- Brian Green
- Jamie Jackson
- Diana Laurenson
- Matt Lopez
- Kevin Maher
- Lenore Marks
- Michael Mindlin
- Brice Mousset
- Sheryl Murakami
- Daniella Polanco
- Katherine Roarty
- Neil Schwartz
- Tracie Stanfield
Classes were $15 and all of the proceeds were donated to the American Red Cross. In addition, BDC hosted a used clothing drive and donated 300 pairs of BDC sweatpants and 100 BDC T-shirts to the Salvation Army.
You can still donate to Hurricane Sandy relief on the American Red Cross website.
Thank you to everyone who donated their time, money, and clothing to this cause. It is so inspiring to show the power of dance to make a difference in the world.
After a much needed catch-up session at Blockheads Burritos, Jason Aquirre (PS S’12), Molly Day (PS S’12) and I headed over to the Roseland Ballroom for the much-aniticipated “Happy We’ll Be,” a dance narrative choreographed by Al Blackstone. Al is a beloved guest teacher at Broadway Dance Center – just see what some students have to stay:
I have always subscribed to the notion that Al is the ultimate storyteller. Even in class, he brings a magical element to his teaching. The beauty of his movement and narrative is only matched by the warmth and compassion of his heart. – Alexa Erbach (PS F’11)
His class without a doubt always lifts my spirits. The energy he exudes is extraordinary and so motivational. – Nikki Croker (PS F’11)
Al was the 2011 recipient of the Capezio A.C.E Award (Dance Teacher Summit), which “is a great opportunity for emerging choreographers to expose their work to one of the most influential audiences in dance.” Check out Al’s winning piece, “Brown Eyed Girl.”
As part of their prize, A.C.E Award winners receive a grant to fund their own dance production in New York City. And thus, “Happy We’ll Be” was born…and for that, we are so happy!
The show is a full-length “dance narrative,” no dialogue – just music and dance. The show takes a bit after the concept of “6 degrees of separation” (“Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries.”) In a sort of ripple effect, one character meets and affects another character, who affects another, and so on. But, only the audience gets to see the full picture.
Each new dance scene witnesses a character’s own pursuit of happiness. ie:
- A teenaged girl learning to walk in heels to impress her school crush.
- A man planning to propose to his girlfriend.
- A young gay man looking for support from his family.
We are all connected in our pursuit of happiness and we all play a role in making others happy.
Al’s latest project is a full-length dance production that defies the convention of any other show you have ever seen. “Happy We’ll Be” is an inexplicable account of love, loss, kindness, wonder and hope. It penetrates the center of our hearts and delves into the source of individual happiness, taking the audience on an unforgettable journey that forces us to marvel at the exquisite beauty in the smallest moments of our own lives. “Happy We’ll Be” is a revivifying reminder that love can be found beyond a lover’s embrace. It reminds us that love is rooted in the slightest touch of a hand, the help of a friend, the kindness of a stranger, and the affection of a parent. – Alexa Erbach
[excerpt from Al Blackstone’s resume]
…My heart’s been stolen.