DanceBreak - Showcasing the next generation of great Broadway Choreographers
Showcasing The Next Generation of Great Broadway Choreographers.
The mission of the DanceBreak Foundation is to identify and nurture talented early and mid-career musical theater choreographers, and offer them an exceptional platform to showcase their work for an audience of industry leaders who can be most beneficial in advancing their careers. DanceBreak provides all the financial, administrative and technical support necessary to develop new choreographic talent for this uniquely American art form.
- To create premier opportunities to showcase new choreographic talent;
- To provide invaluable networking opportunities for rising choreographers to meet prominent colleagues creating theater today;
- To present choreographers that are diverse in their ethnicity, training, style and background;
- To promote and advance the uniquely American art form of musical theatre dance; and,
- To stimulate a broader audience for rising musical theatre artists and their work.
DanceBreak is unique in both its mission and implementation. Each year, DanceBreak produces a series of presentations in New York City to showcase the work of emerging choreographers for an audience of producers, directors, artistic directors, writers, institutional managers and agents.
A group of six aspiring choreographers is selected from a nation-wide applicant pool,the applicants are reviewed and, after a preliminary screening of semi-finalists' reels, the finalists reels are seen and winners chosen by a esteemed Selection Committee with no bias towards race, ethnicity or gender.
In 2007 and 2008, more than 28 of the theatre’s foremost choreographers, directors and producers were part of the selection process, including choreographers Jerry Mitchell (Hairspray, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, La Cage Aux Folles and Legally Blond), Kathleen Marshall ( On the Town, Pajama Game, Grease), Rob Ashford ( Thoroughly Modern Millie and Curtains, Cry Baby, Promises, Promises),directors Jack O’Brien (Hairspray, Henry IV, The Coast of Utopia), John Rando ( Urinetown), Michael Mayer ( Spring Awakening) and Jason Moore ( Avenue Q, Shrek), choreographer Larry Fuller (Evita),composer Stephen Schwartz (Pippin, Wicked), producers Kevin McCollum (Rent, Avenue Q, In the Heights), Jack Viertel ( Jersey Boys, Spring Awakening, Encores! Series) and Robyn Goodman ( Avenue Q., Tick, Tick, Boom)and the legendary dancer/choreographer Marge Champion. To name a few.
For the DanceBreak presentations, each choreographer must create two dance numbers: one of his/her own choosing which may be performed with live musicians or recorded music; the other must be a traditional “ book musical” piece set in its original theatrical context and performed with live music and singing. The combined length of both numbers must be no longer than eight minutes. Each choreographer may use no more than ten performers and has a maximum of twelve hours of rehearsal time.
The showcases are produced with minimal production elements (no sets or lights and nominal costumes and props) in order to keep the focus on the choreographers’ work, not on the showcase’s physical presentation.
Each performance runs approximately one hour and is immediately followed by a networking reception with influential artists in attendance. These receptions are an essential component of the program and are an invaluable tool for initiating relationships that lead to high-caliber professional collaborations.
In addition to the team of rising choreographers, each year DanceBreak also exhibits the work of sixty extraordinary musical theatre dancers.
DanceBreak provides all administration, production management and financing. The choreographers supply the passion and creativity!
In just seven years DanceBreak has become one of the industry “must see” showcases every year and has earned a reputation for excellence in its choice of talent and the style in which the work is presented.
DanceBreak has been attended by every major producer and director in the Broadway community as well as talent agents, free lance artists, composers, musical directors, and other members of the theatrical community. Over the past 6 years, representatives from HBO, Disney, Showtime, Clear Channel, the Nederlander Organization, the Schubert Organization, the Rogers and Hammerstein Foundation, Roundabaout Theater, Manhattan Theater Club, Lincoln Center, all of Broadway’s major independent producers and directors, as well as tomorrow’s future stars have attended DanceBreak performances.
Now in its seventh year, DanceBreak is recognized as the most successful program in the field. The brainchild of Melinda Atwood, choreographer, philanthropist and Vice President of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF), the program was presented under SDCF auspices in its formative years.
The program’s initial performances were held at New 42nd Street Studios, where many Broadway shows rehearse. The “bare bones” rehearsal studios helped DanceBreak achieve its artistic goal of focusing on the choreographer’s craft. Three presentations over two days provided seating for 100 people per performance. However, immediately following DanceBreak’s first performance, word had spread that something truly special was underway and, by the third performance, there was not an empty seat to be had in the audience.
As DanceBreak’s success and reputation grew, so did the need for a larger audience capacity. Additional performances were added, but it was not enough to accommodate the demand for seats.
In 2005, the showcase was moved to a larger venue: the beautiful new Alvin Ailey Studios. This not only allowed DanceBreak to triple its audience capacity, but also provided the choreographers with a ‘real’ theater space in which to present their work without sacrificing either the immediacy or the intimacy of the former studio experience. In addition, the new space allowed DanceBreak producers to invite Alvin Ailey School students, members of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers union, aspiring DanceBreak applicants, and the choreographers’ family and friends to attend the performances. In 2007, DanceBreak moved again to an even larger theater, New World Stages.
After participating in the program, every one of our choreographers have received job offers, much sought-after producer meetings and/or agent representation. DanceBreak choreographers have gone on to work in such prestigious and diverse venues as The Encores! series at NYC’s City Center, Radio City Music Hall, La Jolla Playhouse, The Ahmanson in L.A., Fox Television, St. Louis, MUNY, The York Theatre in NYC, The Orlando Ballet, Papermill Playhouse, Disney Cruise Lines, Caesar's Palace in Atlantic City, Circe Du Soleil, Old Globe in San Diego, FAO. Schwarz stores (in both Los Angeles and New York) and productions in Japan, Italy, Spain, France, Africa and Russia.
Even more impressive is the fact that, as a direct result of the program’s exposure, DanceBreak choreographers have signed their first Broadway contract with some going on to garnish four Drama Desk nominations, three Outer Critics Circle nominations, the Lucille Lortel Award, the Callaway Award, an Emmy, and three Tony Award nominations for DanceBreak 2003 choreographer Casey Nicholaw for his work on the Broadway smash hits, Spamalot, and The Drowsy Chaperone and a Tony in 2011 for Book of Mormon.
Andy Blankenbeuhler, 2002, received his Broadway debut in 2006 with The Apple Tree, and the 2008 Tony Award for his work on In The Heights. Mia Michaels, DanceBreak 2004, a nationally recognized name as a choreographer and judge on Fox-TV’s popular "So You Think You Can Dance" received an Emmy Award for her work and Josh Prince, DanceBreak 2007, choreographed Shrek: The Musical which opened in 2008. Matt Williams, DanceBreak 2005, choreographed several numbers for Thank You America and Goodnight Will Ferrell's Broadway show and Kelly Devine DanceBreak 2007 saw her show Rock of Ages transfer to Broadway from Off Broadway in the spring of 2009.Wendy Seyb, DanceBreak 2008 earned her first B'way credit in 2010 with Pee Wee Herman's show.
And there are more headed this way next year.
In fact.....in the year 2011, after DanceBreak's 9th year, there will be 13 Broadway shows that have been choreographed by DanceBreak alumni.
Photographs on this page: Dances shown, in descending order, were choreographed by *Ray Leeper, * Lorin Latarro, Josh Rhodes, Shea Sullivan, *Jeff Shade and Matt Williams .
Photographs top, choreographed by: Rhonda Miller, Mia Michaels and Robert La Fosse.
Photographs by *Ben Strothmann and Steven Rosen.