What does theater dance mean today? On Broadway, we’ve recently seen everything from hip-hop in Hamilton to pointe work in Anastasia. As a result, theater dance class can truly run the gamut when it comes to genre and even music. “A jazz, tap, or modern class will focus on specific codified technical training,” explains Jim Cooney, who teaches theater dance and serves as the educational department’s resident faculty advisor here at Broadway Dance Center. “In theater class, we work on storytelling, style, and musicality. You focus on communicating the story–what you’re thinking and feeling—through dance. It’s like an acting class, but instead of text we’re using movement.”
There’s just something about when many dancers gather. The collaborative, creative energy can feel simply incredible. Broadway Dance Center will be part of such an atmosphere, by having a presence at Move It, a large three-day dance convention in London. 2019’s Move It dates will be March 8-10. BDC has sent teachers to the convention for three years, and this will be the second year in which BDC has hosted a panel and seminar.
This year, April Cook will be teaching tap, and Jim Cooney will be teaching musical theater. As Director of Public Relations for BDC, Cook will also be presenting at two seminars BDC is hosting — one on differences in dancing in NYC, LA and England, and another as a Q&A-format sounding board for dance studio owners, to bring forward their concerns and ideas. Cook also attended Move It last year, and shares more about what it’s like.
The breathtaking program included works by BDC choreographers (Ashle Dawson, Katherine Roarty, Neil Schwartz, and Jim Cooney), student choreographers (Danielle Burdick, Aline Bennour, Sahar Taklimi, Alex Faglie, Claudia Martinez, Makenzie Dascenzo, Brittany Metelko, and Cassidy Gerczak), and guest performances (Rhapsody En Dance, MADboots Dance Company, and Parsons Dance Company). And don’t forget the show-stopping BDC Glee routine to “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” directed by Bettina Sheppard and Jason Aquirre.
The evening spanned the gamut of dance styles (Latin jazz, contemporary, hip hop, musical theater, and tap) and revealed the tremendous talent and versatility of the Professional Semester dancers.
Congratulations to the Fall 2012 class of the BDC Professional Semester. We are so proud of your hard work and dedication and cannot wait to see where your dancing will take you!
- Alex Faglie
- Alyssa Lemons
- Asher Walker
- Briana Justine Harmon
- Brittany Metelko
- Camille Moten
- Carmela Girdlestone
- Cassidy Gerczak
- Claire Page
- Danielle Burdick
- Erica Misenti
- Katie Homer
- Kat Brooks
- Kelvin Kim
- Makenzie Dascenzo
- Meghan Robertson
- Monica Coulis
- Nicole Butler
- Nicole D’Arienzo
- Sadie Jones
- Shadae Jenkins
Bonnie Erickson – Director of Educational Programming
Carie Jurcak – Educational Programs Student Advisor
Jim Cooney – Faculty Advisor
Bronwen Carson – Acting Coach
Bettina Sheppard – Vocal Coach
Learn more about Broadway Dance Center’s Professional Semester Program.
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.
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.
Dan Knechtges received his BFA in musical theater from Otterbein College in Westerville, OH. His Broadway choreography credits include Sondheim on Sondheim, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Xanadu, 110 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Autumn Dones & Katherine Roarty
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!
On Friday, March 16th the students of BDC’s Professional Semester woke up and arrived at the studio bright and early for their first mock audition of the program. The series of four mock auditions (theater, company work, hip hop/commercial, and decade-themed) allow the students to experience a typical dance casting and also receive constructive feedback from a panel of experts including BDC faculty, talent agents, and casting directors. Like a normal audition, the Professional Semester students are evaluated not only on their dance technique and style, but also on their headshots and resumes, physical appearance, attention to detail, and self-confidence.
Each audition begins with “slating,” a process in which each dancer steps forward to introduce his or her name and a memorable fact. “Slating is the first opportunity for us to get to know you,” says Lakey Wolff, an agent from CESD Talent Agency. “This is your chance to show your personality, energy, and enthusiasm.”
Natalie: “I can hula hoop with fire.”
Holly: “I have dual citizenship in the United States and Canada.”
Marleen: “My favorite toe is the big toe!”
The slating process also allows casting directors and choreographers to look at you. Dance is a visual art, and how you present yourself physically is extremely important. “I like clean lines and neat hair,” says Lakey, “Stand out with color or a unique leotard cut. Oh! And no costume mishaps, please!”
Next up? Warm up! “But don’t forget,” notes Eric Bourne of Parsons Dance Company, “even though we’re warming up, you’re still auditioning!” Be sure to stay present and engaged throughout the organized warm-up because the panel is likely still watching you. In the words of Bonnie Erickson, Educational Programs Director at the BDC, “Are you happy to be here and ready to work? Show us that you love dancing.”
Following warm-up, certain auditions will start with typing (early elimination based on looks, height, hair color, etc.) or a ballet cut. The combination is often across the floor and fairly straightforward so that the choreographer can get a sense of your technical background. Even when you’re learning the combination, always perform your arms full out. Ask politely to switch lines; Even if you can pick up the combination from the back corner of the room, the panel probably isn’t able to see you.
Next, students learn a short combination in the style of the show. Bonnie Erickson and Jim Cooney, who lead the Professional Semester program, highly encourage dancers to research the show and/or choreographer ahead of time to gain familiarity with the movement and style. When learning the combination, be sure to focus in on the details of the movement. Often, the choreographer will teach the movement without performing it full out. In that case, the choreographer will usually have an assistant to demonstrate the movement alongside him or her. Watch the assistant! The choreographer, in an audition setting, will rarely give corrections (but if they do, you’d better apply it ASAP, even if the correction was made to another dancer). The panel wants to know how much you are able to bring to the table without them having to pull it out of you – an approachable personality, strong dance technique, an eye for details, ability to pick up choreography, a respectful attitude, and professional demeanor.
Before you know it, you will be split up into small groups to perform the combination (but this is not the “start” of the audition, as you are being watched from the moment you enter the room!). “Pay attention to your spacing,” says Mishay Petronelli (BDC teacher and Assistant to the Director). “If the audition coordinator tells you, ‘#1 downstage, #2 upstage, etc.,” you need to follow directions when you take the floor and hold that spacing throughout the combination.” You’ll often get the opportunity to perform the choreography twice. Dana Foglia (BDC teacher and choreographer for the Professional Semester commercial mock audition) remarked, “Sometimes you’ll be the best in your group and sometimes you’ll be in a group of beasts and have to fight for your life.”
Nowadays, freestyle is a huge part of the audition process, be it “Chicago” the musical or a Madonna international tour. Sometimes you’ll just be asked to freestyle for the first cut – before you even learn a combination! “For your freestyle, I appreciate when you move the way you are rather than simply conforming to the style,” says Dana Foglia. Explore different levels, dynamics, and styles in your freestyle. The best way to gain confidence and versatility in your freestyle, says Foglia, is to take diverse and challenging classes from a variety of teachers.
Today is the final dance of the Spring Professional Semester 2012 – “Merde!” to all of the dancers for their final mock audition today!
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!