Our Viewpoints series allows you to hear directly from our dancers as they blog about the process and experience of working withBroadway Dance Lab.
Nick Palmquist was most recently seen dancing with The Little Orchestra Society (Prince Charming) at Lincoln Center! Other New York Credits: American Dance Machine for the 21st Century at The Joyce Theatre, Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Guggenheim’s 2014 Works & Process series, and The Astaire Awards (dancer).
I became really invested in the power of music theatre storytelling while attending Oklahoma City University, majoring in Dance Performance. I trained in all styles of dance and took several History of Dance/Music Theatre History classes. I remember learning about how stars were discovered in the ensemble or tracks were created for a certain performer because in the audition, the choreographer saw exactly in that person what they didn’t know they were looking for. I wrote several papers about famous choreographers and found one thing across the industry: for each legendary choreographer there was often a muse that personified his or her genre of dance storytelling.
I have absolutely no proof in saying this, but I think it got quite expensive and time consuming in the process of making a Broadway show to allow a choreographer the opportunity to find exactly the right vessel for each project. Instead we’ve asked them to create entire shows, every single step, and hope there is a dancer in the room that can fill the shoes of the dancer in their head. The training and expectations of music theatre dancers has changed and so has the process of creating a *need* for those dancers in storytelling.
Broadway Dance Lab has given me the opportunity to be one of twelve muses for six distinctly different choreographers. My favorite part of this company has been how many conversations it has created between a choreographer and his or her dancers. Because the ideas are mostly forming in the moment, there are also questions that inevitably mirror them. Fortunately for all parties, the point of this company can be to answer those questions!
I am very used to the way my body moves and what I can count on it for, so this has been a really cool opportunity for two things to happen. Either the way my body tells the choreographer’s story is exactly what they wanted or didn’t yet know they wanted and I get to feel like a gratified actor and dancer, or they discover that my body can’t tell the story correctly unless I do something consciously to fix it; and because they have identified, from an idea, what my dancing isn’t yet saying, I have a much more important understanding of why I’m dancing at all! We haven’t even had mirrors in the rooms we’re dancing in, so I am relying almost solely on the way a choreographer is describing what movement he or she wants to use in telling a story. It has forced me to dance in unfamiliar, deliberate ways and I’m learning things I would have no similar opportunity to learn. Likewise, I have also watched the choreographers learn, from one hour of rehearsing in an uninhibited space, what is going to be the most effective and efficient way of using dance to tell a story over word or song.
I have only ever dreamed of dancing in New York City. I never really got more specific than that and I am so grateful I am dancing for this company, with these people, in this city.