Hear It From The Pros – A Conversation with Ballet, Broadway & Contemporary Insiders

November 21, 2017

“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.”Mikhail Baryshnikov

The performing arts exhibit a continuous cycle of evolution with each new generation of artists coming up through the ranks, and there is a timeless charm in the way artists bring out their individual personalities as they perform. The arts will always offer people a temporary escape from reality as they find themselves transported into a diverse universe of artistry, creativity, style, and talent. Regardless of the idiom, what unfolds on the stage or screen will affect each viewer differently, and that’s part of its beauty. Everyone comes away with a unique interpretation of what they witnessed.

While there are differences between each style of dance, there are commonalities that one can find when exploring the possibilities of what they are capable of portraying. On October 21, The Steps Beyond Foundation hosted another Artists Talk, “Hear It From The Pros – A Conversation with Ballet, Broadway & Contemporary Insiders.” Camille A. Brown, Grover Dale, and Kurt Froman offered a look into how each got their career started, and how they’ve continued to find their niche in the industry over the years as established and valued contributors to the arts.

All coming from different backgrounds with diverse dance histories, the panelists discovered common ground in some of the advice they have been offered over the years, and in the varied emotions that come with the territory in striving to make a career. Regardless of what happens along the way, they all mentioned the importance of listening to one’s intuitions, and how important it is to dance for yourself. They represented several generations of dancers, but time hasn’t changed the basic needs one must master to not only succeed in the arts, but also in life.

Grover Dale got his start dancing when the parent of a boy he knew offered to pay for his lessons if he took the young kid to class. After finding his way to New York, he worked various jobs before he appeared on Broadway, TV, and film. He is also the founder of Answers4dancers.com, which is ranked #1 worldwide in “educating dancers about the biz.” As the youngest of six kids, Kurt Froman and his twin brother were pushed more into the arts by their mother after the divorce of their parents. Initially focusing on tap, he found an interest in ballet when he saw the film Six Weeks. After attending the School of American Ballet on scholarship he joined New York City Ballet for many years before getting onto the Broadway stage. He has also worked with actors in movies to prepare them for roles as dancers including Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Jennifer Lawrence (Red Sparrow), as well Christina Ricci and Rooney Mara. Camille A. Brown choreographed to cartoons at the age of 3, and watched videos for inspiration. While attending North Carolina School of the Arts she discovered an interest in choreography through composition/improv classes. Her choreographic endeavors gained notice when she set work on the Hubbard Street 2 dance company as well as her own company. Her choreography has since appeared on the Broadway stage.

There are many ups and downs one encounters in the arts, and today’s artists must have a great deal more versatility than in the past to stand out at auditions and in front of the creative teams. With the changing technology and social media playing a part in being discovered and noticed, a lot of work goes into not just honing one’s skills as artists, but also in how they portray themselves online and socially. Regarding social media, Grover Dale said to “use it for creative skills. Open the brain and see how creative you can be with your tools and devices.”

Here are some of the tools for success as conveyed by the panelists.

Reels
Camille A. Brown/
• Show your versatility.
Grover Dale
• Grab the attention in the first 15 seconds.
• Something you can do from home on your own time.
• People want to see who you are, and how you stand out.
• Don’t film in the dance studio. “Screams studio.”
Kurt Froman
• Keep the pace.
• Should usually be kept around 90 seconds in length.

Words of Wisdom
Camille A. Brown
• Have other people in the room on your team.
• Versatility – Find a choreographer you love, but also one to help you grow.
• Worst thing to do is cater to what other people see/do, or you won’t get anywhere.
• Don’t put so much emphasis on reviews.
• Stay away from people who make you please others.
Grover Dale
• Meet the people who do something different.
• Your instincts are everything.
• Get a valid passport.
• Use what you have in your pocket.
• Have an agent, or you can only get open calls.
Kurt Froman
• You’ve got to be ready when something happens.
• Look out for your interests to protect you.
• Listen to your intuitions.
• Art is subjective. Some will like it, some will hate it.
• Hard to trust your own voice.

Dealing with Rejection
Camille A. Brown
• Created own company.
• Fought harder.
Kurt Froman
• Corrections help you. No one is going to be perfect.
• At auditions – Sometimes we get so lost in the present and something may be in store.

Mentors
Camille A. Brown – Ron Brown
Grover Dale – Jerome Robbins
Kurt Froman – Stanley Williams

Learning about how the panelists have become a part of the community is inspiring. Hope to see you out on the dance floor, sharing your passion and talents with those around you. Here’s to keeping the arts alive each day as we explore and make new discoveries in what we do while embracing the love we have for our career.

For more tips on marketing yourself join us at “Investing in Your Future” on December 10th. Click here for complete information.

Anne-Allegra Bennett
Blog Contributor

Hear It From The Pros – A Conversation with Ballet, Broadway & Contemporary Insiders