Student Profile: Stephanie Brooks – Apassionata

Not Your Typical Tour
Apassionata, Dance Captain, Stephanie Brooks (Professional Semester Alum.)

“APASSIONATA has been Europe’s most popular live arena shows for
nearly a decade, thrilling more than five million fans across 15 countries with a breathtaking display of the beauty and the bond between horse and rider, man’s strongest and most trusted animal.” – Apassionata.com

Audition
During my final mock audition in BDC’s professional semester, I received representation from McDonalds Selsnicks and Associates (MSA). One of the benefits of having an agent is that sometimes they have closed calls with just their clients, if their choreographer was booked for the job. When MSA sent out the breakdown for a horse show audition, I didn’t know what to expect. However, I was excited when I saw that Lorin Latarro was choreographing; I loved her choreography in The Musical Theatre Performance Project last year. The audition combination had a lot of personality, was technically challenging, and stylistic. After cuts were made, she paired us up for partnering. I was overjoyed when I received the call that I booked the job and even more so when I found out a fellow colleague of mine was going to do it with me. (Go Wildcats!!!!)

Rehearsal
We rehearsed in NYC and learned a lot of material quickly, keeping in mind that a lot would change once we actually got to the arena. Our first stop was Kentucky. Technical rehearsal consisted of long days in the dark cold arena. These rehearsals involve a lot of hurry up and wait, but I found that during the waiting is when you can learn the most if you stay engaged. It was such a privilege to watch Ken Billington (96+ Broadway Shows) do the lighting design and learn from Scott Farris (dir. “Chicago” and “Walking with Dinosaurs”) as he brought together American theater and European Equestrian riders. Lorin Latarro (Currently choreographing “Scandalous” set to hit Broadway this October) pulled from her diverse performance background and allowed us to collaborate on certain parts. It was a very artistically fulfilling process.

Overcoming Obstacles
Dancing in sand, running with flags and fire torches was strenuous on our bodies. For body maintenance, I did some form of Pilates, Yoga, and rolled out my muscles with a tennis ball. We had to be flexible and try to figure out how to adapt the choreography in the sand, and how not to spook the horses or get spooked by them. During rehearsals you could hear Portuguese, French, German, Ukrainian, Icelandic, and English being bantered across the gigantic arena. After one of the first runs of the show, the horse choreographer called everyone together and our choreographer jokingly said it looked like a medieval conference. Picture 40+ horses and riders gathered together speaking different languages and four American dancers and a choreographer standing in a giant sand box. It was a surreal experience.

Stepping Up
As Dance Captain, my responsibilities were to run any extra rehearsals, communicate with the production team, maintain the artistic integrity of the choreography and spacing, make sure that the dancers safety and needs were met, and promote team unity. This production was a learning process for all of us. Most of our stage crew came from the rock concert world and we had to share with them certain theater protocols and vice versa. The communication between the tech crew, dancers and riders was extremely important, because the horses weren’t always predicable. We couldn’t depend on entering or exiting on a musical cue and it forced us to be quick on our feet, listen and watch each other. We developed physical and verbal cues and had to go with whatever happened in the moment.

Unique Atmosphere
Some of the perks of this job were that we had amazing caterers who traveled with us, we learned how to ride horses, picked up a little bit of French, Icelandic, and Portuguese, and got to work with and meet incredible people.

Unexpected Close
Due to the financial crisis in Europe, Apassionata’s USA tour came to an end early (It is still running in several countries in Europe). We were given less than 24 hours notice that we were going back to NYC and the rest of the tour was cancelled. Of course, we were sad and it’s always a little unnerving to be without a steady job, but nothing in this business is guaranteed. That’s why it’s important to save when you are doing a show, so that during the slow times you can continue to train and be ready for the next opportunity. I learned a lot from Apassionata and am looking forward to what the future holds.

Gangnam Style

Not Your Typical Tour
Apassionata, Dance Captain, Stephanie Brooks (Professional Semester Alum.)

“APASSIONATA has been Europe’s most popular live arena shows for
nearly a decade, thrilling more than five million fans across 15 countries with a breathtaking display of the beauty and the bond between horse and rider, man’s strongest and most trusted animal.” – Apassionata.com

Audition
During my final mock audition in BDC’s professional semester, I received representation from McDonalds Selsnicks and Associates (MSA). One of the benefits of having an agent is that sometimes they have closed calls with just their clients, if their choreographer was booked for the job. When MSA sent out the breakdown for a horse show audition, I didn’t know what to expect. However, I was excited when I saw that Lorin Latarro was choreographing; I loved her choreography in The Musical Theatre Performance Project last year. The audition combination had a lot of personality, was technically challenging, and stylistic. After cuts were made, she paired us up for partnering. I was overjoyed when I received the call that I booked the job and even more so when I found out a fellow colleague of mine was going to do it with me. (Go Wildcats!!!!)

Rehearsal
We rehearsed in NYC and learned a lot of material quickly, keeping in mind that a lot would change once we actually got to the arena. Our first stop was Kentucky. Technical rehearsal consisted of long days in the dark cold arena. These rehearsals involve a lot of hurry up and wait, but I found that during the waiting is when you can learn the most if you stay engaged. It was such a privilege to watch Ken Billington (96+ Broadway Shows) do the lighting design and learn from Scott Farris (dir. “Chicago” and “Walking with Dinosaurs”) as he brought together American theater and European Equestrian riders. Lorin Latarro (Currently choreographing “Scandalous” set to hit Broadway this October) pulled from her diverse performance background and allowed us to collaborate on certain parts. It was a very artistically fulfilling process.

Overcoming Obstacles
Dancing in sand, running with flags and fire torches was strenuous on our bodies. For body maintenance, I did some form of Pilates, Yoga, and rolled out my muscles with a tennis ball. We had to be flexible and try to figure out how to adapt the choreography in the sand, and how not to spook the horses or get spooked by them. During rehearsals you could hear Portuguese, French, German, Ukrainian, Icelandic, and English being bantered across the gigantic arena. After one of the first runs of the show, the horse choreographer called everyone together and our choreographer jokingly said it looked like a medieval conference. Picture 40+ horses and riders gathered together speaking different languages and four American dancers and a choreographer standing in a giant sand box. It was a surreal experience.

Stepping Up
As Dance Captain, my responsibilities were to run any extra rehearsals, communicate with the production team, maintain the artistic integrity of the choreography and spacing, make sure that the dancers safety and needs were met, and promote team unity. This production was a learning process for all of us. Most of our stage crew came from the rock concert world and we had to share with them certain theater protocols and vice versa. The communication between the tech crew, dancers and riders was extremely important, because the horses weren’t always predicable. We couldn’t depend on entering or exiting on a musical cue and it forced us to be quick on our feet, listen and watch each other. We developed physical and verbal cues and had to go with whatever happened in the moment.

Unique Atmosphere
Some of the perks of this job were that we had amazing caterers who traveled with us, we learned how to ride horses, picked up a little bit of French, Icelandic, and Portuguese, and got to work with and meet incredible people.

Unexpected Close
Due to the financial crisis in Europe, Apassionata’s USA tour came to an end early (It is still running in several countries in Europe). We were given less than 24 hours notice that we were going back to NYC and the rest of the tour was cancelled. Of course, we were sad and it’s always a little unnerving to be without a steady job, but nothing in this business is guaranteed. That’s why it’s important to save when you are doing a show, so that during the slow times you can continue to train and be ready for the next opportunity. I learned a lot from Apassionata and am looking forward to what the future holds.

Agency Auditions

Hear about two of BDC’s Professional Semester Alumni who recently signed with two of the top talent agencies in New York City.  Congratulations, Nikki and Matt!  We’re so proud of you!


Nikki Croker – MSA Agency

Why did you choose to go to the audition?

I chose to go to the MSA open call because it has been the agency that I’ve been looking to sign with since moving to New York. They have a lot of really skilled, talented performers and choreographers signed with them, including some of  my favourite choreographers – Al Blackstone, Josh Bergasse, Derek Mitchell, and Maria Torres. 

How did you prepare for the audition?

I trained really hard all last year taking classes in a variety of styles including Ballet, Theatre, Tap, Hip Hop, Latin Jazz, Gymnastics, Voice and Acting. I completed the Fall Professional Semester at Broadway Dance Center in which we completed 12 classes a week and had helpful seminars regarding headshots and resumes, nutrition, and mock auditions for all different styles. I received a vast amount feedback from this semester that helped me grow tremendously! 

What was the audition environment like?

The audition was at Pearl Studios. There were hundreds of people!  We lined up to get our numbers and you could either audition for ‘commercial’ or ‘theatre’. I decided to audition for both so I was there from about 11am-6.30pm. We learned each combination in about 15 minutes and then performed it in small groups of 5. For the theatre audition we also had to sing a 16 bar cut. 

How did you feel the audition went?

I felt good about the audition –  I had met Lucille at Josh Bergasse’s Music Theatre Summer Program and also at a Professional Semester mock audition, which eased my nerves a little. I had prepared the best way I could before the audition and knew that I gave my best, no matter the outcome.

When did you receive the call?

 I received the call about 10 days later. I was puppy-sitting at the time and I was playing with the dog Captain when my phone started ringing. I don’t think I’ll forget the day – I was so excited!

Matt Tremblay – Bloc/NYC Agency

Why did you choose to go to the audition?

I chose to go to the audition for the experience. Auditions are a perfect learning atmosphere to figure out your strengths and weaknesses in order to move forward.

How did you prepare for the audition?

I did my research on which choreographers the agency represents because I knew some of them would be teaching the audition combinations. I was sure to hit the gym and take class a lot prior to the audition.  I also did a lot of positive-thinking and reflecting to be mentally ready.

What was the audition environment like?

The studios were packed with dancers! We were typed cast right away.  I felt like it was quite competitive in there until we got to the last few cuts; After a long day, the atmosphere became more supportive.

How did you feel the audition went?

I felt extremly hyped and full of energy all day. As the day went by and I was asked to stay, I surprisingly become more relaxed! This completely shoked me, but I realized that it was just a matter of giving everything I have and hoping for the best.

When did you receive the call?

I was informed 5 days later, Friday at 5:30pm.  I remember the entire conversation!  That was the longest 5 days of my life!  I was so happy and I couldn’t believe it at first. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t a dream until I signed my contract and I heard “Welcome to Bloc.”