A Brief History...
Broadway Dance Center’s rich history is best understood by going back in time to New York City in the early 1980s. Aspiring dancers primarily came to NYC to vie for the chance to dance on a Broadway stage. That was the dream then, long before videos and pop stars. Choreographers like Michael Bennett, Bob Fosse, and Jerome Robbins were creating brilliance on stage, while teachers like Luigi, Jamie Rogers, Henry LeTang, Phil Black, David Howard, and Frank Hatchett were preparing dancers to become the versatile and technical performers needed for these great choreographers.
In another part of the city, long time NYC resident Richard Ellner took his first tap class at 52 years of age. He was a great fan of Broadway musicals, seeing shows like Dancin', Sophisticated Ladies, Tap Dance Kid and Cats twenty times or more. A successful business executive, he fed his love of the arts by taking jazz and tap classes. His desire to expand his own training led him to the legendary jazz teacher Frank Hatchett. Richard took his first jazz class at Hines-Hatchett, a jazz and tap studio in mid-town Manhattan co-owned by Mr. Hatchett and Maurice Hines.
In the ‘80s Hines-Hatchett was like many small studios throughout the city – studio owners had the demanding dual role of teaching while functioning as administrators for their schools as well. As rents rose dramatically, keeping their studios open became virtually impossible.
In 1984, Mr. Ellner assumed ownership of Hines-Hatchett, re-named it Broadway Dance Center, and set out to create a studio that would provide a new home for teachers and dancers. Each instructor was encouraged to contribute his or her personal style and expertise. Students enjoyed the convenience of attending one studio for diversified training rather than having to travel throughout the city.
In the early years, renowned teachers joined BDC’s faculty and solidified the studio’s standing in the dance community. A strong word of mouth brought students from around the globe. Mr. Ellner’s dream was to share the joy of dance with everyone, not just professionals, and he knew recreational dancers and professionals would come together beautifully in their mutual love of dance.
Over the next fifteen years, the studio grew and flourished under Richard’s leadership. His daughter Allison came on board and together they formed a strong partnership. In 1998, the property the studio rented was sold to make way for a high-rise office building. Uprooted and forced to relocate, the studio faced a challenging and disappointing time. It proved overwhelming for Richard, who passed away from a heart attack just three weeks after the move to 57th street at the age of 69.
The responsibility of securing the studio’s future fell on Allison’s shoulders. She felt determined to honor the legacy that her beloved father left behind and to move the business into the next millennium. In 2006, after seven successful years at 57th Street, BDC was again faced with the dilemma of being forced to relocate.
Under the direction of current Executive Director Diane King, and after a short interim period with heartwarming support from the dance community, faculty, and staff, BDC was able to rebuild its current state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Times Square and maintain the integrity and generosity for which the studio is known in the dance community. Under her leadership, the studio provides a palpable abundance of creative energy that invigorates the minds, bodies, and souls of all who enter.
To this day, our staff holds true to the founder’s original intent; an open door policy gratefully welcoming all those who wish to dance. BDC’s class offerings continue to grow and provide a wide variety of talented faculty and styles. These include innovative and groundbreaking workshops, programs, and events that create positive opportunities for children and adults.
It has often been said that BDC is a second home for dancers – this is indeed the dream Richard sought to attain, and it is our honor to be enjoying such an accolade. Just as Broadway Dance Center became the fulfillment of one man’s dreams, we know that, somewhere within the BDC-red walls of our dynamic studios, it can do the same for you.