Hey everyone. I’m checking in from The Pulse here in New York City, where I’ve been following the Brian Friedman Intensive. Brian has been working with his dancers for three to five hours a day. That alone is intense, but the way Brian pushes his dancers reminds me of a football coach with no tolerance for a wide receiver dropping the ball. Which isn’t a bad thing, considering the majority of the 30 dancers are going to enter the field full time. He doesn’t yell, he doesn’t scream. He simply says the truth as he sees it.
Example: I was sitting with Brian in the hotel suite where the choreographers hang out between classes. Dave Scott was napping on the couch. Mia Michaels was stretching before a class. Brian and I were sitting at a table, littered after lunch with chicken wing cartons, and he was talking about his group.
“I love having that many amazing dancers in a room at once,” he told me in a leveled voice, allowing a small smile.
Later at rehearsal, in the same tone of voice but without the smile, he gathered his dancers after a rough run-through.
“This section kind of looks like (garbage), yeah?” he said. (“Garbage” wasn’t the actual word, by the way. Like I said, he reminds me a bit of a football coach.)
“And it shouldn’t,” he added, “because we cleaned it. It should be like Ajax.”
The dancers dutifully returned to work. Things got a little better, but not enough. I checked back with Brian after rehearsal, and here’s what he told me: “I can see it all over their faces. They were completely stressed out in rehearsal today because I came down on them. I was really hard on the dancers today. I wouldn’t accept mistakes. I think the caliber of dancers I chose need to rise to my expectations of them. I wouldn’t have chosen them if I didn’t think they could handle it. I don’t feel bad for being hard on them today. I feel bad that they didn’t pull up for me. I feel bad for them, because I think they felt they let me down a little — and they did.”
As I mentioned yesterday, Brian told me he wanted to both teach skills and rehearse for the show. He’s teaching his dancers to handle tough feedback under pressured conditions. But will they learn the lesson? Will they rise to his challenges?
Keep checking back!
P.S. Later this week I'll take you inside the casting room for a big-time open call that hit The Pulse... one of which could make someone (possibly you!) a star. Casting agent Doron Ofir and his team were in town to hold an open call for a yet-to-be-named Janet Jackson reality show. They were looking for all-around performers to compete on the show, which will shoot this summer and air this fall. The grand prize: mentorship by Jackson herself.
Ofir and crew, along with Janet's choreographer Gil Duldulao, are setting up camp in Atlanta and then Los Angeles for more auditions.
They're in Atlanta now for an open call from 9 to 3 tomorrow, July 9, with callbacks the next day. The venue is Dance 411 Studio, 749 Moreland Avenue Southeast.
Next week they're in L.A. July 15 and 16 at International Dance Academy Hollywood, 6755 Hollywood Blvd.
More info - including how to apply without attending an open call - is available at www.prodigycasting.com. By the way, Gil is teaching a free master class in each city from 6 to 8 the night before the open call. If you're in town, check it out!