Broadway Dance Center welcomes international students

Eliza Ohman on set with Drake. Photo by Oz Rodriguez.

It may seem scary at first: a foreign, unknown city; bright lights and crowded streets; unfamiliar faces; no job and limited funds; and the worry of “making it” in this new place. New York City can at first be those things to people who come from afar, but it can also become a tremendous place to learn, grow, thrive and even succeed.

Many people dream of moving to the Big Apple to pursue their dreams, and now, for you Aussie dancers, that transition can be one that is smooth, guided and prosperous. Broadway Dance Center (BDC) is now opening up its Professional Semester, a four-month program designed for aspiring professional dancers, to international students.

“Since BDC’s motto is ‘Inspiring the World to Dance’, it only makes sense that our elite training program would be open to dancers from all over the globe!” says Bonnie E. Erickson, director of educational programming at BDC. “The international students are fully integrated with the American Pro Sems, as we believe the training we provide is universally applicable.”

Eliza Ohman in 'Kiss Me, Kate', directed by Alan Paul, at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Photo by Scott Suchman.

Eliza Ohman in ‘Kiss Me, Kate’, directed by Alan Paul, at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Photo by Scott Suchman.

Through this program, BDC staff will guide international students in creating audition and résumé materials that are useful both in the States as well as in their home country, and will provide a seminar with VisaPaq, an organization that guides international students in their options for obtaining working Visas in the U.S.

Many BDC Professional Semester alumni are now thriving as professional dancers in NYC and elsewhere. They’ve booked jobs on Broadway in shows like Hamilton, Phantom of the Opera, The Illusionists and The King and I; as a Radio City Rockette; as a dancer for a professional sports team; as a back-up dancer for Beyoncé and other music artists; as a featured dancer in national advertisements; and more. Their success stories are living proof that BDC’s Professional Semester can offer dancers the resources and opportunities to establish themselves as working dancers.

“You get to meet and work with incredible teachers/choreographers, dance in front of agencies, get performance experience in NYC, and learn how to audition out there in the real world,” says Nicole Moffatt, now a Detroit Lions cheerleader who hails from Michigan in the U.S. “Broadway Dance Center also has multiple styles of dance, and you get to experience each and all they have to offer!”

Eliza Ohman, originally from Colorado and who is now a universal swing in Broadway hit Hamilton, credits the Professional Semester for starting her career. Even before the program ended, she had signed with her agency and booked two commercial jobs.

“I think the program provides a space where dancers can make mistakes freely,” Ohman shares. “It provides a nurturing support system where you can ask questions, learn from your mistakes, develop relationships with working professionals, while simultaneously pursuing your own career. You can’t get that anywhere else.”

Robert Coglitore in 'The Illusionists' on Broadway. Photo by Claudia James.

Robert Coglitore in ‘The Illusionists’ on Broadway. Photo by Claudia James.

Offered in autumn and spring terms, the Professional Semester offers dancers a full-time program of technique classes in many disciplines, master classes, weekly seminars, mock auditions, faculty mentoring, rehearsals and performance opportunities. Students take 12 classes a week from BDC’s schedule of over 250 weekly classes. And they get a taste of what it feels like to live and dance in NYC.

For Rob Coglitore, who now performs in The Illusionists on Broadway, the decision to move to NYC to continue his dance training came fairly easily. But once he arrived at BDC in 2013, he says he was at first terrified. He recognized well-known choreographers and dancers whose faces he’d seen on TV. That fear, however, quickly turned into a passion to learn from these amazing people and to immerse himself in the same community.

“Because I was scared, I knew I was in the perfect place,” Coglitore says. “Training at BDC expanded my vocabulary as a dancer, helped me understand what it takes to be a working professional, and made me want to support the community even more. The program specifically made me set achievable goals and introduced me to many known professionals that I probably would have never met otherwise. It required me to rely on myself and push myself to become better, which is something that I will always be grateful for.”

Erickson says BDC helps international students, in particular, transition to NYC. BDC provides the M-1 student Visa to all of its international students and guides them carefully throughout that process. In addition, there are two BDC dormitories located within walking distance of the studio.

”For international students, I think it’s brilliant to just be in the heart of NYC,” Coglitore remarks. “The city itself is unbelievably inspiring, and on top of it, you get to do what you love every day. I think it’s a win-win for international students.”

Nicole Moffatt. Photo courtesy of Moffatt.

Nicole Moffatt. Photo courtesy of Moffatt.

Erickson adds, “The ISVP Pro is a great option for so many reasons, but one of my favorite reasons is that we at BDC are actively creating a culture of kindness and support for our dancers. Yes, we provide the highest level professional training on earth, absolutely, but we also care that our dancers are looked after and, quite simply, nice to one another! We know that the dancers who work consistently are not only incredibly talented, that goes without saying, but they’re also professional, reliable, happy people, and that along with our excellence in dance education is what we seek to provide! New York City is truly the center of the dance universe, and BDC is right in the heart of it, providing the best training as well as a home away from home.”

The opportunity awaits; the decision is yours. And past graduates of the Professional Semester seem to have the same advice: Go for it.

“Pack your bag, buy your ticket, and go!” Coglitore says. “The time is now. Don’t let anything or anyone stop you if you want it.”

Moffatt adds, “Just do it. Move to NYC! Sadly, a lot of super talented people sit at home playing the ‘what if’ game. Don’t let insecurities get in the way of your dreams. And don’t set a time limit for yourself. It’s one thing to have a timeline for goals, but don’t tell yourself that you ‘quit’ if you don’t book anything after two years. That’s so unfair to you. It’s so different for every person. Things will happen if you trust the process!”

The application deadline for BDC’s Professional Semester Spring Session (January 16-May 7, 2017) is December 23. For more information on the program and details on how to apply, head to www.broadwaydancecenter.com/training/professional_semester.

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

Photo (top): Eliza Ohman on set with Drake. Photo by Oz Rodriguez.

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