Dance-Related Careers

Dance Teacher

Jim Cooney teaches Theater dance at Broadway Dance Center and is also the Faculty Adviser for BDC’s Professional Semester and Summer Intern Program.  Cooney was dance captain for the revived national tour of The Music Man and was part of the original company of Nights on Broadway.  In addition to teaching, Cooney has choreographed for countless events and organizations such as “The Today Show,” “Extreme Home Makeover,” Bloomingdale’s, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week,and the NephCure Foundation.

Choreographer

Dan Knechtges received his BFA in musical theater from Otterbein College in Westerville, OH.  His Broadway choreography credits include Sondheim on SondheimThe 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling BeeXanadu110 in the Shade, and Lysistrata Jones.  Additionally, Knechtges choreographs for TV/film, concert dance, and opera, directs productions such as Encores! Merrily We Roll Along, and teaches at dance studios and universities across the country.

Professor

Gail Abrams is a Professor of Dance at Scripps College in Claremont, California. She received her master’s in Dance from The American University and certification from the Laban Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies.  Abrams teaches Beginning Dance, Modern I and II, Laban Movement Analysis, and Dynamics of Human Movement courses.

Company Director

Heidi Latksy gained recognition as a principal dancer for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company.  In 2001 she formed her own modern company, Heidi Latsky Dance (HLD), which has toured at theaters, festivals, and universities in the United States and Europe.  “The mission [of HLD] is to bring contemporary dance to a broad audience in a visceral and emotional way with performers whose unique attributes, physical and otherwise, are honored and utilized in highly dynamic, virtuosic and provocative ways; and to expose people to alternative ways of looking at their lives through community programs that emphasize discourse, experiential risk-taking and body work.”

Talent Agent

Jim Daly started his career as a singer in New York City.  When he saw the chaos in his own agency, he offered to become an assistant to his agent.  Daly now works as the “legit” talent agent (focus on film, TV, and theater) for Bloc.

Nutritionist

Emily Cook Harrison danced with the Atlanta Ballet, Smuin Ballet, Boston Ballet II, and Ballet Internationale before attaining her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nutrition from Georgia State University.  She is now the head of the Centre for Dance Nutrition, associated with the Atlanta Ballet.

Non-profit Director

After touring around the world as a professional ballerina (Bolshoi Ballet, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, American Festival Ballet), Jane Bonbright went on to pursue her master’s and doctorate degrees in Dance Education.  Bonbright founded the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) in 1998 to promote quality dance education in the United States.

“Jack’s Back!”

Last week marked the final performances (for now, at least) of “Jack’s Back,” a clever new musical romp about the notorious Jack the Ripper.  The funny and fresh new musical at the T. Schreiber Studio and Theatre  tells the tale of “Herbert Wingate, an audacious cockney sausage stuffer, struggles to make the gas-lit streets of Whitechapel safe from the ruthless murderer. Herbert’s wild and zany schemes offer a hilarious and heartfelt new take on the centuries old tale” (tschreiber.org).

Alexa Erbach

Romain Rachline
Julia Udine
The off-off-Broadway musical comedy stars a number of Broadway Dance Center alumni including Julia Udine (Professional Semester, S’12), Romain Rachline (ISVP ’11-’12), and Alexa Erbach (Professional Semester, F’11).  Additionally, “Jack’s Back” was choreograhed by Bronwen Carson who teaches Acting for Dancers at BDC.

If you weren’t able to make it over to “Jack’s Back,” 1) you missed out, but 2) do not despair – there are high hopes that the show will return to the stage soon.  You can help make this possible by voting for “Jack’s Back” for the New York Innovative Theatre Awards.

Voting is simple:

1.  Go to: http://www.nyitawards.com/vote/ and select “audience ballot”

2. Select “Register to Vote” and fill in the online form

3. Check your email for instructions on how to vote

2012 Student Performance Showcase

The BDC community packed the house of the Symphony Space Theater for our annual Student Performance Showcase.  This is a tremendous opportunity for students to work closely with our esteemed faculty of teachers and choreographers.

Faculty Choreographers:

Justin Boccitto
Jacob Brent
Chio
Jim Cooney
Autumn Dones & Katherine Roarty
Jamie Jackson
Princess Lockeroo
Amira Mor
Q Pittman
Heather Rigg
Sue Samuels
Neil Schwartz
Bettina Sheppard & Diana Laurenson

The Showcase featured hip hop, contemporary, theater, tap, jazz, locking, and even singing and acting.  Princess Lockeroo choreographed a “Hunger Games” inspired waacking routine complete with waacking “battles” and fantastical costumes.  Q Pittman created a jazz funk/hip hop piece satirizing Alvin Ailey’s renowned “Revelations.”  And vocal teacher, Bettina Sheppard teamed up with theater teacher, Diana Laurenson to re-stage the original groovy Fosse choreography of Sweet Charity’s ‘The Rhythm of Life.”

Congratulations to all of the dancers and choreographers involved in this year’s Student Performance Showcase.  And a big “thank you” to April Cook for organizing the whole event.

Because of the great success of the Student Performance Showcase in the Spring, BDC is thrilled to announce the launch of a second Student Performance Showcase to take place in the Fall!  Stay tuned for more information!

Student Profile: Kelsey Stenta – Philadanco D2 Apprentice Company

Check out our newest blog entry by guest writer, Kelsey Stenta.  Kelsey graduated from BDC’s Professional Semester last December and was just cast in Philadanco’s apprentice company, D2.  Read all about her exciting audition experience and learn more on Kelsey’s own blog: www.straight2thepointe.blogspot.com!
Congratulations, Kelsey!

I have wonderful news…I got a contract for an apprenticeship with Philadanco! The apprentice company is called D2, and they take class, rehearse, and perform on a regular basis. D2 performs over 25 times a year and the dancers are sometimes included in Philadanco performances. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’ve seen many Philadanco performances and I always rant and rave about them. Now I get the chance to work and perform with them!One of the differences between Philadanco and D2 is that Philadanco dancers receive a salary and benefits, while D2 members get paid for performances. Even though I won’t be getting a salary, this is my first ever dance job, and I could not be more ecstatic! Dancer’s spend their entire lives dedicating themselves to training and practicing for this moment. Every experience up until now has been about paying to train so that eventually you can get paid to dance. I’ve finally reached that point where it’s the start of a career, and it feels so good. It’s like spending your whole life in school, and then finally getting a real job. I will not make a living by being in D2, but many dancers in apprentice companies work their way up to the professional company, which is the ultimate goal.I’m glad that I auditioned for the apprentice company first because I get to continue to enhance my technique, gain more performance experience, and work with professionals, all without paying a tuition. Also, the Philadanco dancers (including D2 and the youth program) are like a tight-knit family. It’s almost like the directors and company members are mentors to the other dancers, so they get to know each other very well. If you are already well-known and work hard in D2, you are more likely to get picked for the professional company. They have auditions in January and June, so I plan on auditioning for the professional company after I’ve had some experience in D2.

The audition experience seemed a lot tougher this year. Mrs. Brown (founder of the company) told us before the audition that they have had some funding cuts and therefore, did not have as many spots available. Despite having less openings, there were just as many dancers in the audition as there were last year. Last year, they never made any cuts, so all of the dancers were included in the entire audition, then at the end they called the numbers that they wanted to keep. There were at least a dozen dancers picked for D2, including myself. This year, they made a large cut after about 40 minutes, then another cut later on. The number of dancers picked for D2 this time was at least half compared to last year, if not less. I feel very fortunate and honored to have a second chance at being a part of this dynamic company.

 Friends Dann, Emily, and I before the audition!

Philadanco is a very traditional and strict company. It is mostly modern based with some ballet. In the auditions, Milton Myers always teaches a Horton class. If you don’t know the Horton style, I would describe it as extremely disciplined with linear movements that require a lot of strength. Although that is not the only style that the company does, I would say that it’s the foundation. This is a big change from the type of dancing I was doing in New York. I took a lot of jazz, contemporary, and lyrical, since that is what I concentrated in. Those genres are more new and less strict, whereas Philadanco and their style of dance has been around for decades. I believe that every dancer who wants to succeed should train in multiple styles so they become more versatile, so I am excited to see where my work with this company takes me.

Philadanco has a six week summer skills enhancement series for all of the companies. I start on July 9th, and each week focuses on different styles of dance. We have Graham, Ballet, African, Horton, Contemporary/Modern, and Dunham. We will be taking these classes Monday-Friday from 5:30-7. Then D2 and company members stay until 10:30 on Monday-Thursday for rehearsals. Our first show featuring the D2 dancers is in the beginning of September. After the 6 week intensive, we have our fall schedule, which is class Monday-Wednesday from 5:30-7, then rehearsals on Monday night, Wednesday night, and Sunday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. So, with D2 we are dancing four days a week, but we still have time to fit in a work schedule.

Stay tuned to hear more about my experience with this amazing company. I will be posting updates as often as I can! I truly appreciate everyone’s genuine excitement and support; it really means a lot to me. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else 🙂

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!

2012 Choreographer’s Canvas

Last weekend’s Choreographer’s Canvas, produced by The Group Theatre Too, LLC (GTT) showcased choreographers and dancers of all ages and styles to a sold-out crowd at the Manhattan Movement Arts Center.  The evening also included a touching tribute to the late Tony Stevens.

The GTT, founded in 2003 by Michael Blevins and BDC’s own Justin Boccitto, aspires to “encourage diversity and the exploration of the human experience through theater, dance, and music.”

Broadway Dance Center was well represented at the show, not only in the audience but also on stage and behind the scenes.  Notable performances included works by BDC faculty such as Sue Samuels, Ginger Cox, Jared Jenkins, Crystal Chapman, and Lainie Munro.

The Jack Cole Project

The director’s note opens:

Julie Newmar was once asked “Why is it that most people don’t know of Jack Cole?”  Ms. Newmar paused, considered it for a moment, and replied, “Well, all the important people do.”

While this quote probably excited most other audience members about the upcoming performance of “Heat Wave: The Jack Cole Project,” I felt disillusioned.  I had never heard of Jack Cole, the supposed founder of jazz dance who influenced Bob Fosse, Michael Bennett, Alvin Ailey, and Jerome Robbins and taught the likes of Ann Miller, Betty Grable, and Marilyn Monroe.  I’ve taken my share of jazz classes, musical theater classes, modern classes, and dance history courses in college.  I love the history of dance just as much as I love to dance.  I was almost angry with myself – why wasn’t I familiar with Jack Cole?!

Now, I don’t mean to make excuses, but it’s not my fault!  I flipped through my collection of dance history books – the history dance in Western culture, a Bob Fosse biography, a Marilyn Monroe biography, and a Jerome Robbins biography…no mention of Jack Cole.  Confused and frustrated, I turned to my dear friend, Google.

Search: jack cole biography book.

Results: 1 – “Unsung Genius: the passion of dancer and choreographer Jack Cole” by Glenn Loney

…Price? $82.00.  Not happening.

I will keep you posted on my “search for Jack Cole,” but for now, let’s talk about “Heat Wave.”

The project was conceived and created by Chet Walker, who also developed the Tony-winning musical, “Fosse” back in 1999.  In addition to this new dance musical, Walker began teaching “Jack Cole jazz” classes and hosting film nights/discussions at Steps on Broadway to raise awareness of the unknown choreographer.  I attended the first film night back in the fall of 2011 and, sitting in the tiny studio with dance royalty like Chet Walker, Ray Hesselink, and Dana Moore, I realized this ‘Jack Cole’ guy was kind of a big deal.

So I eagerly bought my ticket to “Heatwave” and made the trek out to Flushing for the performance at Queens Theatre last night.  I perused my Playbill, reading all the bios of the Broadway veterans in the show.  Only the center section of the theater was filled, with maybe 120 people in the audience total.  But as the “Prologue” began, the magnetic energy of the cast illuminated the dark theater.  My eyes watered as I tried not to blink and miss a second of the magic that was happening on the stage.

The two hour and twenty minute production of non-stop song and dance weaves restagings of Cole’s choreography into almost a biographical montage tied together with quotes and anecdotes told by Cole’s peers such as Gwen Verdon and Gene Kelly.

In words, Cole’s choreography sounds a bit confusing: a blend of swing, tap (restaged by BDC’s own Ray Hesselink), can-can, and Eastern influences – but it all works.

Choreographically, Cole’s influence on the future of jazz dance is unmistakable: the strong masculine leaps and battements of Jerome Robbins’ “West Side Story,” the sensual prowess of Bob Fosse’s “Snake in the Grass,” the geometric yet fluid shapes of Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations,” etc.

“Cole’s style — what’s recognized as jazz today — is actually a compendium of several influences: the strong poses of bharata natyam (Indian classical dance), the feline sensuality of Afro-Cuban dance, the lilt of the lindy and the elegance of classical ballet. His numbers are eye-catching because of how much they ask of the performers — who scale staircases; quickly transition between dancing very low to the floor and twirling above it; execute lifts; and cover a great deal of space, often within a single song.” – Rebecca Milzoff (NY Times)

“There are people who have that look about them,” Chet Walker told Milzoff. “You know they’re important. And there is this thing about Jack Cole dancers: They have ‘it.’”  “Heat Wave” has ‘it,’ and surely has the potential to head to the “Great White Way” after its May run at the Queens Theatre.  Though the definite future of the “Jack Cole Project” is unknown, one thing remains certain: that that legacy of Jack Cole will live – or rather, dance – on.

Tips and Tricks for Headshots and Resumes

As a dancer, your headshot and resume are your “business card” in the industry.  Here are a few helpful tips to make them stand out:

Headshots:

  1. Hire a professional photographer.  While your best friend might take some free photos of you with a digital camera, the trained eye and helpful advice of a professional photographer is usually worth the expense.
  2. Look like YOU!  The casting director will (hopefully!) keep your headshot as he or she makes callback and casting decisions.  If the casting director doesn’t recognize you/remember you from your headshot, he/she is likely to toss your headshot to the side.
  3. Be natural.  Come to the shoot looking clean and put together, but keep your makeup and styling fresh and natural.  Practice your “poses” the night before.  Keep your poses organic and true to your personality.  Oh, and be sure to act your age!
  4. Know the job.  Research the audition you’re attending and make sure your headshot choice is in line with the job – a bright and smiley commercial headshot versus a more mature headshot for straight theater.  Always have at least two contrasting options on hand.
  5. Update your headshot every few years or whenever you make a significant physical change such as a drastic haircut or a change in hair color.
  6. Keep it clean. You want the casting director to look at you, so avoid wearing shirts with intricate or distracting patterns and posing in front of a busy scene.  Also steer clear of wearing lots of jewelry.  You want to look like a clean slate that can mold into whatever character the casting director wants you to play.
  7. Have options.   Bring at least three different tops to the shoot.  Experiment with different facial expressions and angles.  Try shooting both indoors and outside.
  8. Have ‘em handy.  Print your headshots on photo paper with a thin white border and your name in the bottom corner (in a clean, professional font).  It used to be the “norm” to have classic black and white headshots, but nowadays color is “in.”  Cut your headshots to 8×10 inches to match your resume.  Always have 5-10 copies of your headshots in your bag!  You never know when a last minute audition will come up or when a teacher will ask to keep your headshot on file.

BDC recommends:

Dirty Sugar Photography 

Brian Thomas Photography 

 

Resumes:

  1. K.I.S.S. (“Keep It Simple, Sweetie”).  Your name should be at the top of your resume in a clean, bold, and slightly larger text.  Use a “sans-serif” font, one that is easy to read and free of embellishments.  Your resume should not exceed one page in length.  And don’t try to squeeze as much as you can on your resume if it means you’ll have size 6 font.  You can still show off your accomplishments by keeping your resume short and sweet.
  2. Note your “stats.”  You can exclude your batting average, but be sure to include the basics: hair color, eye color, height, weight or body type, vocal range, etc. (you do not need to include your age!).
  3. Stay in touch.  Include your contact information like your phone number and e-mail address.  Use a phone number where you can usually be reached (this may end up being your cell phone).  You don’t want to miss a callback because you weren’t home to check your voicemail.  Also make sure you use a simple, professional e-mail address.  Recycle your middle school “qtpie5678@aol.com” for “jane.doe@aol.com.”  Make sure this contact information is up-to-date!
  4. Organize.  Separate your resume into subheadings: Performance Experience (Theater, Film/TV, Industrial, etc.), Training (include styles and teachers), Awards/Scholarships, and Special Skills (ex. Driver’s license, languages you speak, and other talents that might help you land the job).
  5. Order up.  Unlike a business resume, you don’t need to include specific dates on your dance resume.  List your most notable experiences first, along with the venue or director/choreographer’s name.
  6. Be honest.  If you’re just starting out, don’t be embarrassed if you don’t have a lot to list on your resume – everyone starts somewhere.  It’s alright to include competition awards you’ve won or college dance concerts you’ve performed in.  You can recycle these credits for more notable ones once you have a few more jobs under your belt.  Also, don’t lie about your special skills!  If you say that you can yodel, the casting director may ask you to do it on the spot at the audition.
  7. Show off!  If you have a lot of experience under your belt, organize a few versions of your resume to cater to specific auditions calls – commercial, theatrical, concert dance, etc.
  8. Keep it clean, too.  Like your headshot, cut your resume to 8×10 inches.  Staple your resume to your headshot so that both are facing out.  Be sure to do this BEFORE you come to an audition.