Conversation with Tiffany Maher pt 3

Conversation with Tiffany Maher, Part 3

Master Talent Teacher Joe Tremaine has a conversation with the recent LA transplant, Tiffany Maher, about her already blossoming dance career and the move to LA. Part 3 / 3

Tiffany Maher

Conversation with Tiffany Maher, Part 2

Master Talent Teacher Joe Tremaine has a conversation with the recent LA transplant, Tiffany Maher, about her already blossoming dance career and the move to LA.

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Interview with GLEE Choreographer Zach Woodlee

The choreographer of the FOX hit series Glee, Zach Woodlee, sat down with Master Talent Teacher Joe Tremaine to discuss how his path led him from Texas to Los Angeles and on to become the choreographer of the insanely popular television series. Zach talks about what he looks for and expects from dancers when auditioning and hiring for Glee, and offers his advice to dancers in the entertainment industry.

Growing up with a mother who owned a dance studio, Zach’s childhood was immersed in dance. Later, after studying geriatrics in college, he worked with many area nursing homes to keep movement as the main focus of their recreational programs. However, fate would soon move him to Los Angeles in the pursuit of a dance career. Zach’s mornings began at 4:15 a.m., when he got up, put on all of his ballet gear and topped that with his barista uniform. His shift at Starbucks stretched from 5:15 a.m. until 10:15 a.m., which gave him just enough time to make it to his 10:30 ballet class, tearing off his apron and barista gear as he entered.

Zach got his first break dancing for LeAnn Rimes, then on to movies, joined SAG and began working union jobs. While dancing on tour with Madonna, the realization that an ongoing back condition would prevent him from dancing for much longer. He later made the transition into choreography. Zack=s Glee experience began with meeting show creator Ryan Murphy and realizing he had an innate understanding of the script. The pilot became a passion project for all those involved. Once they were satisfied it was packaged perfectly, they gave it to the world and the rest is history.

Regarding the dance industry, Zach reveals what he looks for and relies upon when casting dancers for Glee. Discussing the importance of keeping your photos and resumes updated, he emphasizes how your work ethic will inevitably make or break you. He also feels that younger dancers need to understand the importance of performing in a group, instead of just as a soloist with specialty tricks. Proper training and a technical background play an important role for him as a choreographer in creating the proper lines. He closes by saying that there is no reason to ever stop training or supporting your dance community. In his words,” If you don’t keep pushing yourself, you will become stale, and you will lose a little bit of your luster”.

Interview with Tiffany Maher

Conversation With Tiffany Maher, Part 1

Master Talent Teacher Joe Tremaine has a conversation with the recent LA transplant, Tiffany Maher, about her already blossoming dance career and the move to LA.

Joe Tremaine Interview Rihanna Dancer Tony Bellissimo

Master Dance Teacher Joe Tremaine sat down with first year professional dancer Tony Bellissimo, who was recently a dancer for Rihanna on The Loud Tour 2011, to discuss his move to Los Angeles, his experience on So You Think You Can Dance, auditioning for the Academy Awards, Glee and his advice for dancers who are moving toward a professional career.


Tony began dancing with his Mom when he was two, hip hop classes began at six, and at age 13, a discussion with Joe Tremaine convinced him of the need for technical classes such as ballet, jazz and tap.  By his senior year of high school, he had cut out varsity sports to focus exclusively on dance.  Then, at the age of 18, he found himself in the top 20 on season 5 of So You Think You Can Dance.  Even though he was the first to go home, his time spent on the sound stages of Los Angeles proved to be the catalyst he needed.  That January he made the move from frigid Buffalo, New York, to the warmth of Los Angeles.

Days after arriving in L.A., Tony’s first audition, and first professional job, was for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, an audition process which he easily compares to his  SYTYCD experience.  Since that time, he has worked on other award shows including The Kids Choice Awards, the TV Land Awards and the Univision Awards.  He has also appeared on multiple episodes of Nick Jr’s The Fresh Beat Band and the Fox hit series Glee, including their “Thriller” themed episode which aired after the Super Bowl.  Other credits include Step Up 3D with director Jon M. Chu, a Radio Shack commercial and various music videos.

Based on his experience, Tony’s recommends pushing yourself outside your comfort zone so as not to limit yourself as a performer or your ability to compete with other dancers.  He discusses the need to be comfortable freestyling at auditions, saying, “Everyone in L.A. can dance.  It’s what you do after those two counts of eight that will set you apart.”  Tony’s other advice includes, the importance of communication with your agent, knowing and being confident in who you are as a dancer and the fact that you must eat, sleep and breathe dance if you want this as your career.

Movement for Actors, part 3

Dance: Movement for Actors – Part 3

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Dance: Movement for Actors – Part 2


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Movement for Actors – Part 1


Why Should Actors Take a Dance or Movement Class?

Actors are notoriously “in their head,” whether it be analyzing scripts or mentally getting into the mind and body of their characters. What is the best way to get back into your body and feel the immediacy of the action while still developing skills that improve your overall performance – a Movement for Actors Class.

Chryssie Whitehead, whose credits include the role of Kristine in the 2006 original Broadway revival cast of A Chorus Line and the documentary film Every Little Step, Kathy in the New York Philharmonic production of Company with Neil Patrick Harris, and who can currently be seen in the recurring role of Dana Nelson on ABC’s Private Practice, is also a movement coach who loves helping actors get out of their heads and into their bodies. Her successful dance career includes everything from being a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall to touring with Fosse, as well as transitioning into a successful acting career. This career path led her to discover her love for teaching, primarily her love for teaching movement to actors.

In the beginning, as a trained dancer, she admits to being unsure of how she would go about teaching people who had never had a ballet class, or who had never known what it’s like to be in their body in the way dancers are so comfortable with. In turn, many actors are reluctant to join dance and movement classes for this same reasoning. What Chryssie found however, was that actors were the most willing to come in and transform and get into their bodies in a new way. This led to her realization that she had a knack for helping actors and singers get out of their heads and develop their craft through movement and dance.

After all of the homework actors put in “in their head” in analyzing the script, the character and where it should go, they then have to get on the set or stage and “do.” That’s where dance training develops a different skill set. In dance you start with the “doing” and less “in your head” thought. It’s all about the movement. In her classes she want the actors to take risks. She doesn’t care if you’re getting the right step. Her preference is to see you doing something out of your comfort zone, trying with all your might, and going for it. Watching you realize that every posture, gesture and mannerism will help you enhance the character to open up the performance, and what better place to take these risks than in the safety of a dance class. This risk taking in class translates into an actors willingness to then take risks in their acting.

From the moment performers step into the audition room, it is obvious who is not comfortable in their bodies. A dance or movement class can help you develop the ability to develop this comfortable and know how to utilize your posture and movement to your best advantage. This comfort is the difference between just walking into a room or bringing your presence into a room and filling it up with your “Here I am. Take it or leave it.” confidence.

If you’re in Los Angeles, check out Chryssie’s ongoing class at the Edge Performing Arts Center in Hollywood, www.EdgePAC.com, or find a dance or movement class in your area.

Learn more about Chryssie Whitehead at www.ChryssieWhitehead.net

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Dance: Advice from Industry Professionals Part 2

WORDS OF WISDOM

Have you ever wondered:

  • What do other Dancers wish they would have known when they first started?
  • What did that successful working Dancer learn along the way that helped boost their career?
  • What does my Agent need most from me to help them get me the jobs I really want?
  • What was that Choreographer thinking during the last audition?

Great advice from others in your industry, especially those with many more years experience, is invaluable to advancing your career. It keeps you grounded in what is important, what could be important to you in the future and what might serve you best to avoid along the way.

Keri LaGrand, a long time dancer, educator and choreographer, said it took her a long time to realize that communication with her agent was key. She wishes she would have known from the beginning that no one was going to be calling her, telling her what to do and taking care of her. Calling the agency, asking what they needed from her and staying on top of it, is a process she would have started a lot earlier. Not understanding that they have to communicate with their agent is the biggest mistake a lot of dancers make, says Clear Talent agent Tim O’Brien. The agents job is to give you information so you are ready for the audition, but the dancers job is to let your agent know what you are doing, how you are doing, if your hair changes, etc. This allows them to best represent you.

“Don’t lose your passion,” says 42 year veteran dancer and choreographer Jerry Evans. Obviously you started your journey loving the dance, which is why you chose to pursue it as a career. However, if you don’t love the dance, don’t come to L.A. and don’t start. You have to understand that it is a commercial industry and it’s all about what is “commercial” and what they can sell. It’s not an artistic world or about whether you are the best dancer. Sometimes, even though you are the best dancer, you may not work because it’s about a type, or about who is working, or about how sellable you are at that time. Agent Tim O’Brien adds that the common mistake he sees dancers make is not being fully ready. Just because you’re the best dancer in your studio does not mean that you are ready to move to a big city, or that you have the right tools to successfully pursue a professional career.

The strongest suggestion in preparing yourself, especially for dancers who haven’t graduated high school yet, is to take advantage of the summer intensive programs, says agent Shelli Margheritis of MSA. These programs will give you an opportunity to get a feel if that city is right for you and if the dance industry environment that is being presented feels like the right fit for you. While there, also take advantage of some of the other professional studios in the area that may offer classes from some of the choreographers you may soon be working with in the potential future. All these things allow you to see if that is where you will be comfortable living and pursuing your career. These trips are also a great time to look into scholarship programs available at both the professional studio and collegiate level.

In preparing for auditions, professional dancer from recent projects such as Step Up Revolution, Rock of Ages and Rihanna’s Loud Tour, Tony Bellissimo, reminds dancers that music is a necessity to dance. The reason we dance is music. You need to listen to your music, all types of music, and really listen to it. Harness it and get it into your soul and your system so that when you hear a beat your body just moves naturally. In addition, dancer Lindsay Webb emphasizes the importance of establishing a stable and supportive home base for yourself. A place where you can relax and be yourself. Where you are surrounded by your friends and roommates and avoid the possible toxicity of the outside world.

Glee choreographer Zach Woodlee offers some of the strongest advice to dancers which is to stay true to yourself and not try to become a character you’re not, because it may come off as fake. As a choreographer, he also offers this extremely important audition tip – listen to the choreographer or director at auditions. Dancers who are doing their own thing during the audition are actually hurting their chances. Focus on the purpose of that audition. If the audition is casting for a group of 15 dancers, they need all the dancers to be able to work within a unit of 15. They don’t need a soloist right now. Maybe they will have a need for a soloist in the future that you will be perfect for, but at this audition, stay focused on what they asked from you.

Talk to as many dancers, choreographers, directors, and other industry professionals, in front of as well as behind the cameras, as you can, as this will allow you to gain more insight into your craft. Most people will be happy to give you advice if you approach them at the appropriate time, and you never know which bit of information may help you land your next job. However, choose your advisers and the advise you use carefully. Each person will benefit differently at different times along their journey.

Tips for a Professional Dance Career