By Deborah Searle of Dance Informa.
The four winners of the On Broadway National Workshop & Competition, directed by J.O. International Productions (JOIP), redeemed their major prizes in May, visiting New York to indulge in all things Broadway.
Before taking their flight from generous sponsor Hawaiian Airlines, the four lucky dancers from across Australia – including Zachary Denman, Kyla Bartholomeusz, Alessandra Kitinas and Kyle Hall – first visited Sydney to have a meet and greet with musical theatre icon Todd McKenney. His invaluable advice and insights inspired and informed the dancers and got them ready for their big journey.
Once in New York, the dancers were able to take classes in a variety of genres at the renowned Broadway Dance Center (BDC), as well as visit the famous Juilliard School, see After Midnight on Broadway, visit the sites and enjoy a photo shoot with dancewear icon Capezio. As part of their prize, they all received $500 to spend at Capezio’s New York flagship store on Broadway and 51st Street.
When asked what the highlight of her trip was, Kyla Bartholomeusz said, “Going to Capezio, the most beautiful dance store I have even seen, and being able to spend $500 on whatever I wanted to! We also did a photo shoot in Times Square with Capezio, which was so much fun!”
Zach Denman shared Kyla’s sentiments. “Capezio’s generous gift voucher was worth its weight in gold. We were treated like celebrities with a welcome from Vice President Michelle Clemack and excellent customer service as we tried on everything we could!”
The dancers learned so much by being immersed in the New York dance scene.
“I have learnt a lot on this trip. This trip made me realise how much I love New York and how much I want to be here,” said Alessandra Kitinas. “Doing what I love is one thing, but doing what I love in the city that I love is very special and it’s an experience that I will never forget. I have also learned how committed you have to be and how committed I am to achieving my goal.”
Young Kyle Hall of Adelaide was blown away by being in New York. “It is honestly one of the most surreal feelings I’ve experienced,” he enthused. “When I’ve woken up here it’s a bit hard to comprehend, ‘I’m going to spend the day in New York City dancing at the Broadway Dance Center’ or ‘I’m seeing a Broadway show tonight.’ It’s just insane!”
The networking opportunities afforded to the pre-professional dancers were a highlight for Zach. “The opportunities here are incredible and fellow industry people are very keen to offer advice and help wherever they can,” he shared. “This week has been an ‘extensive intensive’ on everything musical theatre. You go from dance classes in multiple genres to networking with industry professionals, from agent meetings to viewing Broadway shows, from vocal lessons to shopping for performance attire. JOIP has given me a broad yet clear view of what encompasses a Broadway career and a taste of the many different ways you can go about it.”
Kyle agreed, saying, “I’m just 16 years old and I don’t really know too much about how things actually work in the industry, so getting to work and talk to people who are very involved is beneficial for me. I definitely have a clearer understanding and can adapt my plans accordingly.”
Zach also relished the professional classes offered at BDC. “Every class there has been incredible! They offer an extensive range of classes with each one always having a positive supportive energy and the teachers always go above and beyond to help you improve.”
Kyle added, “There has not been a class that I’ve done where I didn’t have a great time and felt that I was learning and developing.”
Alessandra agreed as well, saying, “Taking classes at BDC and getting a new understanding on dance was great. Dancing in NYC is so different to dancing in Sydney; the vibe of the class, the atmosphere, the style of dance, the choreography and the community. It was great to learn from so many amazing teachers.”
Kyla is so inspired by the experience that a Visa to work in the US is the first thing on her to-do list upon her return.
“This experience has completely changed my life! I cannot put into words how beneficial it has been,” she said. “I knew I always wanted to come to NYC but this trip has taught me so much about the industry over here. It is such a big world in terms of the performing arts in NYC but the guidance and wisdom I have received has been incredible. Thanks to JOIP, I feel like my dreams of living here aren’t too far away! I am planning to get my O-1 Visa as soon as possible, thanks to the brilliant support of Visa-Paq.” [As part of their prize the dancers were given a consulting session with international Visa specialists Visa-Paq.]
Alessandra is on the same page, saying, “When I get back to Sydney, I will begin to look into getting my Visa. This could take anywhere up to three years to achieve, so I want to start soon. I will also be looking into schools and education over here so that I could come and study at some of the best schools for both academics and performing arts over here. That way I can come back sooner rather than later.”
Good luck dancers! May your Broadway dreams come true!
Dance Informa was a proud sponsor of On Broadway National Workshop & Competition by J.O. International Productions.
Photos courtesy of Capezio.