The BDC Faculty Answers YOUR Questions...
What is your dance background?
TAP dance ( including theatrical and rhythm approaches), JAZZ ( Venacular jazz dance including Swing/Lindy Hop, and also Classical/theatrical jazz dance which includes techniques mixed with ballet techniques, Cush dance ( African), Hip-hop, House, Popping, and still studying other dance styles; Flamenco, Indian dance, etc...keeping the mind open as dance styles are like languages, the more you learn the more you can communicate to others. The less you learn the more you segregate and never learn to love one another, unify, and become equal with love and appreciation inside each other's uniqueness.
Who WERE your teachers, and who ARE your teachers?
First and foremost: GOD, the WORD made flesh JESUS CHRIST, and the voice of the HOLY SPIRIT guiding my life to all these various worldly teachers of physical information.
CUSH land ( a.ka. Africa) dances: My Mom, Kim Holmes, Youseff Kombassa, and many others I dropped in on. But, note that that is not a dance style, but a culture which is too vast to study all of it in one lifetime. It's the first dance of life within a vast conitnent over 10,000 different dances.
JAZZ: SWING: Norma Miller and others
JAZZ (contemporary, theater, etc.....with a ballet technique involved): Phil Black
TAP ( Broadway Tap/Theatrical: Robert Mann, Rhythm Tap: Honi Coles, Chuck Green, Barbara Duffy, Michelle Dorrance, Andrew Nemr, Jared Grimes, and others that I dropped in on, but these are the main ones.
HOUSE: The culture (too many people to mention), but started in it with two men named Damien and Mike.
HIP-HOP: Introduced to it by my older brother, but again, the whole culture.
ELECTRIC BOOGALOO/POPPING: Introduced to it by Soul Train, and my older brother (who introduced basic Popping, and more Snaking/Waving), then by watching, and later in the 90s by Jazzy J, Suga Pop, Boogaloo Sam, Poppin Pete, and Skeeter Rabbit ( a.k.a. Electric Boogaloos), and Jr. Boogaloo and the culture around the world.
BALLET: Robert Mann, Joffreys, and Alvin Ailey
SALSA: My neighborhood, Eddie Torres and Maria Torres, and my Mom.
What are some things that people might not know about you?
I am actually half-Cuban! My mom was born in Santiago, Cuba. My Dad was born in England and the Munros are Scottish... hence my fair skin and red hair. Thank goodness I got my Mama's dancing genes and "Spanish fire"- she is a ballroom champion! My other passion is horses, I used to compete hunter/jumper and jump very big fences. Now I do dressage, it's a bit safer. :) And I'm absolutely passionate about traveling and seeing the world, I have been blessed to have seen 40 countries through my performing, choreography, and teaching. I recently taught at McDonald College of Performing Arts in Sydney, Australia and it was a life highlight for me.
What projects are you working on now?
At the moment I am preparing for my annual Broadway Big Brother/Big Sister Program, which I've been doing at BDC since 2001. The Program pairs Broadway dancers with aspiring young performers in the BDC Children & Teens Program, and they work together in rehearsals and a performance of a production number I choreograph. The Program is all-volunteer and the Broadway dancers donate their time and talent to work with the kids. This year's cast of Big Brothers and Big Sisters is extraordinary... we have Cameron Adams, Summer Broyhill, Kathy Calahan, Colleen Hawks, Stephanie Klemons, Michelle Lookadoo, Barrett Martin, Nicole Powell, Megan Sikora, Byron St. Cyr, Stephanie Van Duynhoven and Kevin Yee. We start rehearsals May 1 and the performance is Sunday May 29 at 8pm at the AIM Invitational at the Danny Kaye Playhouse. For me the BB/BS Program is one of the most fulfilling things I do and the project I am most proud of. It means so much to the kids and the adults love it too...I get such a kick seeing them all dance together! It's Broadway's current generation teaching the next generation, and watching the kids grow in confidence and performance skill by dancing alongside their Big Brother or Big Sister is just magical.
Brian Carey Chung
Who WERE your teachers, and who ARE your teachers?
I've had many excellent teachers, but two stand out: Kim Tuttle, the director of a Florida company called Dance Alive, and Alonzo King, director of LINES Ballet. Kim, my first ballet teacher, is an incredibly gifted dancer, teacher, and choreographer. She even played the piano for our classes. Alonzo really shaped me as an artist and helped me to be competitive technically. The work there was tough, but I what I learned stays with me, even today. Alonzo's methods of teaching weren't always easy to follow—he often spoke about technique in a philosophical way, and his corrections in class had just as much to do with life lessons as they had to do with technique. He reminded us always to be courageous, sensitive, generous, and fearless; to take risks, and to be in the moment. He prepared me not only for my 20-year professional dance career, but even now as a teacher and choreographer.
Who/What inspires you, and how do you inspire and motivate your students?
I'm inspired by people who overcome difficult circumstances to achieve personal success. As a teacher I try to not take myself too seriously. I believe life is more important that dance. That said, I think it's a terrible crime to squander one's time, to be complacent, or self-absorbed. As dancers, we can forget these things because it's so difficult to be a dancer. So I try to get the dancers to be present; to focus on the task at hand. One step at a time. And, I remind them to have a sense of humor as well. When the step is difficult, I remind them to attack, to overcome the obstacle, to breathe and move beyond the obstacle.
What are some things that people might not know about you? This is a great question. People may not know that I love to scuba dive, and that I am poet as well as a choreographer. I also love tennis.