Kick-starting a Career
Brittany Metelko (by Dirty Sugar Photography)
Imagine having the chance to live in NYC, take classes from top choreographers and get audition tips from casting agents. Young dancers from across the country do just that during Broadway Dance Center’s Professional Semester, a program designed to help them launch their careers. When 23-year-old Brittany Metelko was chosen to participate last fall, the Ohio native and recent University of Akron grad packed her tap shoes and moved to a studio apartment on the Upper West Side. She documented her four-month adventure for Dance Spirit. —Rachel Zar
Today was orientation for the Professional Semester (ProSem) at BDC—a big step toward making my Broadway dreams a reality. There was a welcome reception where the staff explained what would be in store for us. We’ll take 12 classes per week, including three ballet classes, five in our concentration style (mine’s theater) and a ProSem master class. Afterward, I mingled with the rest of the dancers. They’re so diverse, and we all clicked right away.
Even though we had to audition to get into the program, today we took a placement class so the faculty could suggest our class levels. We learned theater, contemporary ballet, hip-hop and tap combos. Then we performed in small groups for the panel. I’m most familiar with theater, tap and ballet, but I tried to embrace hip hop as well, and it was a blast.
Our first master class was this morning with David Kent, dance captain for Chicago on Broadway. We learned “Hot Honey Rag.” I love Chicago, so I was extra excited. Afterward, we had a Q&A session with him where he gave insider feedback on all our industry questions.
Dancing to “Gangnam Style” on “Good Morning America” (courtesy Brittany Metelko)
This morning I got to dance on “Good Morning America,” doing “Gangnam Style” with Psy! The show called BDC saying they needed extra dancers. The day started at 3:30 am, but I was too excited to be tired. A producer positioned me on a roof overlooking Times Square. There were cameras everywhere—including one in a helicopter flying overhead! I got to dance in the teaser footage leading into the commercial and then again during the segment.
Tonight I danced an improvised tap solo at BDC’s Performance Project, which is a series of informal shows all BDC students can be part of. I was the only ProSem to participate, and I’m so glad I did. Everyone was supportive, cheering me on and congratulating me on my solo.
The ProSem students had a promotional photo shoot today atop an apartment building with crystal-clear views of the Empire State Building. I mixed it up, wearing my tap shoes for some shots and jumping around barefoot for others. The surprise of the day was when I was asked to model in ads for The PULSE On Tour.
Today, BDC arranged for an exclusive tour of the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Our guide was former New York City Ballet dancer Jennifer Tinsley-Williams, who gave us the inside scoop on the company. Plus, we got to watch a working rehearsal onstage. I dreamed of being a ballerina when I was younger, so this experience was a treat.
We’ve officially started working on three dances for the final ProSem showcase: hip hop by Neil “Dradle” Schwartz, Latin fusion by Ashlé Dawson and theater by Jim Cooney, which we started learning today. It’s based on “Bend and Snap” from Legally Blonde, and it’s going to be great!
An image from Brittany's rooftop photo shoot (by Dirty Sugar Photography)
We had a mock audition today with Steve Vaughn from Parsons Dance. We brought headshots and resumés and performed in small groups as if it were a real audition. As we learned the combination, we’d occasionally stop for feedback from BDC faculty along with a casting director. I’m excited we’ll have more of these throughout the semester, including one with Emmy Award–winning “Smash” choreographer Joshua Bergasse.
Over the past few days, Hurricane Sandy came through NYC, closing down much of the city. I’m lucky and grateful there was no damage to my apartment, and my heart goes out to all who were affected by the storm. BDC reopened today, and it’s holding a series of benefit classes to raise money for the American Red Cross.
During my time here, I’ve been choreographing a tap piece, which I presented at the second Performance Project tonight. The show acted as an audition for the final ProSem showcase in December. Out of the 38 pieces, only five were chosen, and I’m ecstatic my piece was one of them! I can’t wait to show my choreography to friends, family, agents and casting directors.
Today started with another mock audition, this time with Rhapsody James and Clear Talent Group agent Julianna Lichtman. We were asked to dress as if we were auditioning for a Rihanna music video but could only wear black. I wore high-waisted shiny leggings, a sequined crop top and combat boots. Rhapsody and Julianna said they especially liked my look.
After a few classes, 10 of us went to Times Square to film a flash mob for a BDC sizzle reel. We definitely attracted a crowd. Then we moved to Lenny’s deli to film more. Tapping in a deli was a first for me!
(Front) Performing Ashlé Dawson’s "Pasado El Control" (courtesy Broadway Dance Center)
I can’t believe we just had our final mock audition. Choreographer John Carrafa taught us a theater combo, which we danced to two completely different songs. It allowed us to play around with our character choices. This time, “cuts” were made, and those who made it through were asked to sing and act. Coming into the program, I was always nervous about singing, but practicing this semester has made me much more confident.
We did it! We delivered two amazing showcase performances. The day started with tech rehearsal at the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center theater. Then, we had a two-hour break, which I spent with my parents, who came in from Ohio.
During the second show, some of us were given special awards. I received an award for perfect attendance as well as one for professionalism. I was surprised and honored.
Performing and then saying goodbye was bittersweet. I feel lucky to have met such wonderful, talented people during my time in the program. I can’t wait to see what’s next!
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