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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Sep
30

VIEWPOINTS with Kory Geller

Kory_Geller_HS_1_thumb-0Our VIEWPOINTS series let’s you hear directly from our dancers as they blog about the process and experience of working with Broadway Dance Lab. First up, KORY GELLER.  Kory earned his B.F.A in Drama from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts (CAP21). Theatrical credits include Mary Poppins (Ogunquit Playhouse), A Christmas Carol (McCarter Theatre) and A Chorus Line (Fulton Theatre). 

And we’re off! After a month of excitedly telling people that I would soon be starting “this cool dance company called Broadway Dance Lab” the day has finally arrived! Being a part of BDL is such an honor, and extremely rewarding to my dancer self. To be in a room each day where I get to create and express myself through movement satisfies my artistic appetite like nothing else! And it is so fulfilling to be surrounded by people who feel the same way. Not only are the other dancers incredibly talented, they are equally excited about this process. We are already one big, happy, SWEATY family.

I have been fortunate enough to work with Josh Prince before in BDL Cycle 2, so I feel very lucky to be back in the room with him. It is nice to collaborate with someone whose style and process are familiar. I feel comfortable with and attune to his creative wave lengths.

The most liberating thing about BDL is that there is no right answer, no specific thing that MUST be created. We have the liberty to take an hour to work on one count of eight, which may or may not end up ultimately leading anywhere. For me, this process is never tedious, but rather a chance to explore multiple options and discover what works best.

Even thought it’s only been one week, it feels like all of us have been creating together forever. There were no first day jitters, no shyness, and we certainly didn’t start slow or small. We dove into the work right away. I love this as it doesn’t leave room for any trepidation. We go for it no matter what the task is. In addition to working with Josh, we have worked with the wonderful Geoffrey Goldberg and we have many more exciting residencies still to come. All of us dancers thrive on being the vessels for different choreographers to investigate and express their ideas and we all love diving into different styles. It’s a beautiful, symbiotic relationship that occurs in the room between the dancers and choreographers.

Now that I’ve gushed about how amazing this experience is, let me be clear that it is not all fun and games. It definitely has its challenges. It is physically demanding, there is difficulty in retaining the steps and counts, and sometimes it is hard to fully understand the choreographer’s full vision. But that’s why we’re in the room: to challenge ourselves! Sure, we may not know what the outcome will be, but predictability can be boring. And one thing BDL is NOT is boring. So we jump into the unknown and as long as we plie when we land, we can achieve our goals.

Gotta go dance!

-Kory

 


Sep
22

JOSH’S JOURNAL

Josh and Cycle 3 CompanySometimes all one needs in life is to get to the starting line. And yesterday that’s exactly what I did.  After a year and a half of planning and fundraising and meetings and scheduling and emailing and the like, I finally stood in a big, open room with 12 talented dancers ready to create exciting new dances.   I breathed it in.   It is always a momentous occasion that is in no way lost on me.  Just thinking about all that it takes to get to the point where I can even begin the work reminds me why I work so tirelessly to bring BDL into existence. As I explained to the diverse company of dancers anxious to get their bodies moving in space, I have not created in this way since the last time I did BDL, which was March of 2014.  You would think that the floodgates of creativity would burst open and waves of movement generation would break the dam. Instead, I was met with heaping amounts of internal dialogue:  “How on earth will I begin?  What do I really want to work on?  How do I do this again??  Will this idea I have in my head even work?  Will I like it?  Will anyone else like it?  Does the idea dance??  Why am I not moving faster?  What the hell am I doing??”   The list went on and on and on.  It felt like I was riding a rusty old, vintage bicycle with only 2 working gears.  But at least I was pedaling.  I may not have been “in the zone” but at least I was in the game.  Reminds me of the great saying from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming!”  It’s times like this when one realizes that creative work takes faith and perseverance and the willingness to just keep at it.  And often the “work” lies in standing before a group of people who are staring at you and saying to them, “I have no earthly idea what I’m doing, what I’m about to do, what I want, or what I don’t want.  I’m stuck and I will likely need your help getting unstuck.”  But that’s collaboration after all, isn’t it?  And I firmly believe that sitting in the muck, the darkness, is just as important as sprinting towards the light.  And that there needs to be a place to go where failure is, in fact, an option.  As Stephen McCranie so eloquently put it: “The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”   By the end of the day, we had spent a good hour working on one small phrase of movement that never quite landed the way I wanted it to.  It may very well be the wrong idea entirely.  I half-heartedly proclaimed my “epic fail” to the dancers right before we left and without missing a beat one of the dancers, Jenny Holahan, (pronounced Hoo-la-han) said, “That’s what we’re here for!”  It makes me well up just thinking about it because that’s what I have worked so tirelessly these past three years to create and sustain.  A place were we can all fail big, fail often, and fail boldly…as long as we just keep swimming.

 


Sep
22

STEP BY STEP with Karen Sieber

Karen Sieber photo credit: Peter Hurley

Karen Sieber
photo credit: Peter Hurley

Born in Switzerland, Karen began her career with Zurich Dance Theatre (CH); London Studio Center (UK) and Matt Mattox’s JazzArt (France) before coming to New York City. She enjoyed a successful dance and acting career in both the US and Europe before starting to choreograph.

We asked Karen a few questions about her background, her work and the goals she has for her upcoming residency with BDL.

BDL: Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you start dancing?

KS: Up until the age of 12, I trained in Switzerland as a professional ice skater. My routines were theatrical in style and it became clear to my parents that I had a love for the theatre. Both my parents had backgrounds in business but they gave their support and it fueled my desire to express myself through theatre and dance. I was fortunate to have a professional career across Europe and U.S as well as working as an actress on stage, film and TV.

BDL: How did your transition into choreography happen?

KS: When I was performing, I had great opportunities to dance captain and assist choreographers which gave me insight into the process of making dance. I’m the kind of person who’s always looking for a challenge and I find it very challenging to create from nothing; to find the inspiration to even begin. I’m always looking for the deeper story, the meaning behind the dance and the truth that it reveals. I love being able to shape how the story is told and I love collaborating with other creative minds.

BDL: Are you coming to BDL with any specific goals for what you would like to accomplish?

KS: Yes. I am hoping to begin developing an appropriate “physical language” for a new musical I’m working on. I would like to play with some of the themes of the show and begin to see how they might be expressed through movement. It’s going to be an incredible opportunity for me and I’m so grateful.

BDL: How does your choreographic process generally unfold?

KS: Story is key for me. I like to do extensive research on everything related to the piece, be it history, period, style, the way people move or speak, any newspaper articles I can find, or really anything I can find. Then I go to the music and try to let it all go, almost as if I’m handing things over to the creative instinct. The final piece of the puzzle is, of course, the dancers. They influence everything and once I step into the studio with them, a lot of things I thought I knew about the piece begin to change.

BDL: What are three words that describe your choreographic style?

KS: That’s tough. It really depends on the show I’m working on and the style it calls for. But raw, athletic and elegant are qualities that I value in a dance and dancers.

BDL: What’s next for you after BDL?

KS: I’m currently putting together a presentation of my work to be shown in NYC. I’ll also be working on a workshop of the new musical, Lighthouse, in the spring of 2016.


Sep
15

BDL WELCOMES ANDY BLANKENBUEHLER!

Broadway Dance Lab is honored to announce that Andy Blankenbuehler, the Tony Award winning choreographer of this year’s smash hit Broadway musical, Hamilton, will be joining our roster for Cycle 3!

Andy Blankenhuehler

Andy Blankenhuehler

Mr. Blankenbuehler won the 2008 Tony Award for his choreography in the Tony Award-winning Best Musical In The Heights (also Lortel, Calloway, Outer Critics and Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography). Other Broadway credits include the new musical Bring It On (Tony nomination for Best Choreography and Drama Desk nomination for Best Director), 9 To 5 (Tony nomination), The People In The Picture, The Apple Tree, and the recent revival of Annie. Other theatrical work includes the world premiere of the new musical FLY (Dallas Theatre Center), The Wiz (City Center Encores), Desperately Seeking Susan (West End), A Little Princess (Andrew Lippa), and the current national tour of Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. His choreography can be seen in the new musical Hamilton at the Public Theatre, opening on Broadway this summer. Upcoming projects include Bandstand at the Paper Mill Playhouse, as well as Only Gold with British singer/songwriter Kate Nash.

Mr. Blankenbuehler has staged concert work for both Elton John and Bette Midler, and he conceived, directed and choreographed the hit Caesars Palace production Nights On Broadway. On television, his work has been seen on America’s Got Talent, So You Think You Can Dance, the Sopranos, MTV, Sesame Street as well as many national commercials.

As a performer, Mr. Blankenbuehler has danced on Broadway in Fosse, Contact, Man of La Mancha, Saturday Night Fever, Steel Pier, Big and Guys and Dolls. He has toured the US and internationally with West Side Story and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Music of the Night. He teaches across the country with the New York City Dance Alliance. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Mr. Blankenbuehler resides in New York City, with his wife Elly and two children, Luca and Sofia.