Back in February, Chicago based singer/songwriter Mia Leblon reached out to me about collaborating on a new video project. She wrote and produced a song and I created the movement for it. The piece is the first I have made for film so it was an exciting project to work on. We filmed the project at the Leo Burnett building downtown a couple weeks ago and the film is now in post production! Look forward to the final project premiering in the next few weeks!
Visceral Dance Chicago returns to the Harris Theater for their fourth spring season, featuring a world premiere, two returning works and a technical masterpiece. The line up includes two Nick Pupillo work as well as "Minor Threat" by Mark Godden and "Changes" by Monica Cervantes. I remember seeing "Changes" for the first time two years ago and knowing that it was a piece I wanted to dance myself. Excited to be perforing in the pillow duet next weekend April 8th. Tickets can be found here
Excited to be performing at the Harris Theater next Sunday with the Chicago Philharmonic. Visceral is about to go through a week of in studio showings which includes working with the orchestra for the first time on this project. Exciting times!! You can get tickets for the show below.
Excited about this Comcast Ad I got to be a part of for MLk day! Celebrating an exceptional man who did incredible things for this country. Can you find the two Brandon's in the mix? This is one of my first print gigs and I'm looking forward to many more!
Launching a new weekly live stream of my Wednesday Int/Adv Contemporary class at Visceral Dance Center! Tune into my Instagram account @_BrandonColeman and see the final combo live. Times to catch it are listed below!
NYC- 10:10pm | Chicago/Houston- 9:10pm | Tucson- 8:10pm | Vegas/LA- 7:10pm
Last night I had the pleasure of performing in Brendan Fernandes' show Free Fall. The piece was a two hour improve to live sound crated by Chicago musician Tidas. During that time, the music stopped and started again 49 times. Each time the sounds stopped I fell to the ground and did not get up until the music started again. The work is an ode to the Orlando massacre victims.
Looking forward to seeing how the work grows in the future!
Excited to be working with Northwest Ballet Academy this holiday season in Schaumburg, IL. I will be dancing the rolls of Nutcracker, Snow King, and Arabian. Hope you can make it to one of the shows!
Friday, December 2 -- 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 3 -- 1 pm & 5 pm
Sunday, December 4 -- 1 pm & 5 pm
Friday, December 9 -- 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 10 -- 2 pm & 7:30 pm
Sunday, December 11 -- 1 pm & 5 pm
More info and tickets can be found HERE!
Within opens tonight! Come see the works presented by the dancers of VISCERAL DANCE CHICAGO! I will be premiering my new work, "This One Time I was Arrested in Upstate New York" which features nine stellar women and some incredible classical guitar. You wont want to miss it. Other work will be presented by my colleagues Mario Gonzalez, Hanna Brictson, Terra Kell, Owen Scarlett, Paige Fraser, and Noelle Kayser. Tickets can be found HERE and shows run Thursday-Saturday at 8pm. Visceral Dance Center in Chicago
This time off from Visceral has really tested my self-motivation. This might be the first time in my life that I had to 100% make my own schedule. Think about it. I was born, followed the schedule my parents gave me until I started school, went to school for the past 16 years, graduated, and then joined a company that works 10 to 5 Monday through Friday. Now, it’s up to me to pay rent, eat, taking class, etc. These are pretty basic things but they point is that I NEED to make them happen.
I think this became real over the past couple of weeks because I haven’t been working as much as I have over the past few months. Dimo’s shut down for maintenance work last week so there is a full 10 days without a paycheck. And because I only sub dance classes right now, threes only so many opportunities to pick up extra classes. Its times like this I am thankful for my dad teaching me to put away 10% of every check I make.
So what positives have been happening? Well I put in a solid five days of Dimo’s work (while we were open) which then led to three straight days away from the establishment. Somehow the universe knew to give me these days off so that I could have three ideal days with THE Alex Yonkovich. The three days reminded me of my month in Europe this past summer with my brothers. No real plan or heavy lifting. Just saw where the days would take us. Couldn’t have asked for more.
After she left my first Nutcracker was in full force. Five shows in two weekends which got a great review. More importantly than that, it was fun to connect with dancers all over Chicago (y Cuba) for these shows. This performance reaffirmed that I am very happy to be a part of this Chicago dance community.
I’m still subbing classes at Visceral Dance Center BUT starting in January I will be teaching two classes every Wednesday night! So for all you Beginning/Intermediate Jazz dancers or Int/Adv Contemporary Jazz dancers, I’m hoping you’ll come dance with me starting January 6th!
I’ve also been getting a lot of messages about upcoming show dates and when I’ll be guest teaching around the U.S. so… I made a new calendar tab on my site! Check it out. I’m also trying to do more traveling in 2016. Hence I bought a ticket to Salt Lake for February and heading to Toronto in March. More info on those trips coming soon!
Vacations never do what I think they will do. I’m over here thinking that my two days off are going to be filled with nothing but things to recharge my batteries. In reality, I’m doing just as much (if not more) activity as I would be if I weren’t on “vacation.” Then again how mad can I be. I got to spend the last two days in Frankfort, IL visiting with my brother Dan, my friend Kelsey (currently with Odyssey Dance Theatre in SLC), and her family. They had a beautiful series of Thanksgiving events: cocktail hours, food, and another cocktail hour…some more food… I guess it was a lot of the same, but you could not beat the company. Really grateful to have such a beautiful and kind family welcome me in as one of their own. Now that my family is spread across the US (and Ireland), it’s nice to have a family atmosphere around the holidays.
Before these great thanksgiving memories happed, I crossed some pretty big milestones in my professional career. My debut as “Boy with Flag” last weekend in Day of the Gypsy, went over super well. My one eight count sprint across the Harris Theatre stage could not have gone better. Still waiting on my personal reviews, but I’m sure they’ll start coming in soon enough…
Two wonderful items came in the mail this week. First, my “house mum” during my time in Denver last summer, Ms. Sue, sent her Sheppard’s pie recipe. If you ever had the opportunity to try this meal, you would understand my excitement. Second, I got some furniture people. But not just any furniture. Two beautiful counter stools (one of which I’m currently sitting on) in my kitchen. This means that I no longer need to eat my meals standing up or on my futon. Finding the little pleasure of life.
I’ve been hitting up a lot of ballet classes lately in preparation for the Ruth Page Nutcracker (which premiers next weekend!) and feeling good about how my technique is progressing during this “off season” from Visceral. I think having this new focus and challenge is really inspiring me. Every once in a while it’s good to have a change of pace and scenery to keep the passion alive.
This next week is going to be great. Why you ask? Well to put it simply in one word, Yonk. Yes ladies and gentlemen, Alex Yonkovich is heading to my new city for a visit. My heart is happy. After seeing Danny and Kelsey this weekend, and now getting Alex here for a few days, I’m afraid I’m going to be spoiled… right now, I’m not mad at it.
New blog on Tuesday! I have some thoughts on this idea of age and experiences that I’m excited to share with you/ get your thoughts on.
Yesterday, I went to a meeting with some of the people I work with at Dimo’s. Right now, the company is going through a restructuring that has all levels of employment working together in order to diminish the hierarchical structure that currently exists. In college I took a few business classes for my minor, but it’s really exciting to have some hands on experience of how a small business functions and evolves.
Anyway, one thing the company is focusing on is being transparent. The goal of transparency is for every employee to know how every branch of the business functions (what they do, what they make, how they are helping the company, etc). It’s very cool how this business runs and I’m looking forward to seeing it change.
But after the meeting, I went and got a drink with one of my coworkers, Matt (part of my plan to be more social outside of work) and we started talking about this idea transparency. Matt is a very interesting person to talk too. He’s seen the world a few times over, studied some philosophy over the years, and believes that being wrong is one is one of the greatest gifts because it means there is still more to learn. I’m looking forward to hanging out again.
As we drank our craft beer (because so few people of our generation drink the mainstream big time brews) we started to talk about this idea of transparency. One thing we agreed on was that the key to being transparent was to just BE transparent. It’s a confusing concept, but in reality, it’s simple. It actually reminded me of something my sister Jill (of Jillfit.com) says a lot:
“If you say it, you’re not it.”
Basically, if you say you are transparent, you aren’t transparent. If you say you’re a confident person, you are not really a confident person. It’s the actions that will convince others of your true nature. So many of us, myself included, want to BE a certain way. But if we aren’t taking that action to be the people we want to be, we will be stuck in this state of never being completely satisfied.
So what do we do? We act. We figure out who we want to be and how we want to be portrayed, and then we do it. It’s that simple. I want to be a world traveler so I buy my ticket. I want to be more socially available, so I participate in social activities. I want to be more transparent, so I act accordingly. We act and do until we are. Think about how much time we could save by not focusing on what we want to be, and just start being.
On Sunday I tricked myself into believing that I was going to have a somewhat laid back week. On Sunday, I thought my most important appointment was getting my monthly haircut. Then Monday came around and my week seemed to fill itself up. When you’re off contract, this is a beautiful problem to have.
I taught four classes at Visceral, passed killed my written test at Dimo’s, and wrote my first blog about having a backup plan. However, if you follow my page on fbook you’ll already know that the most exciting part of this week is my cameo in Day of the Gypsy this weekend at the Harris Theatre for Music and Dance. I’ll be running a large red flag across the stage at the very top of the show and dressed in all black. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chicago Tribune raved about my contribution to the show in the Sunday paper… Photos to come ;)
In all seriousness, today is exciting because I’ll be teaching my first classes at the GUS school. I love teaching at Visceral and it’s become my safe place to teach, but it’s nice to start branching out. This week I teach in different neighborhoods, next week I teach in different countries….that’s how it works, right?
So what are the goals for this week? Career is steady, Tupperware ha been purchased (I promise I almost have all the kitchenware I can dream of... almost), what else is there!? Oh yeah, a social life/interpersonal relationships! I’ve been so focused on establishing myself professionally and financially in Chicago I forgot to do something just for fun. Thus, I went out last night with my Dimo’s crew! I had a beer, a couple shots, and just a good night. Therefore, my goal for this week and for all the weeks after is to have a night out with some good people. What could be better than drinks with a side of good convo?!
What wild and crazy things are about to go down? Well…I’m so happy you asked! My Nutcracker debut should be one for the books (more info and pics to come) AND some special guests are heading to the windy city, just in time for snow. May mother nature have mercy on us all…
Around this time five years ago, I found out that I got into the UA School of Dance. Very exciting time to say the least. But the deal I made with my mom was that I could only go to UA for dance if I got a second degree in something else. The argument at the time was that it would be good to have a backup plan “just in case.” I believed the reasoning was valid.
At the time, I remember thinking the idea was completely logical. What if I get injured or I’m not good enough to make it as a pro? What if I get there and realize that after twelve years of doing this thing that I love, I suddenly lose interest?
Seems crazy to think about now, but these were real fears I had and sometimes still deal with. However, is it more beneficial to spend years towards a degree in something your aren’t passionate about, or to spend that time in classes where you can develop skills you’re interested in learning about.
It wasn’t until my Junior year when I was learning Balanchine’s Tarantella that I began to realize this backup plan/ back up degree was taking focus away from what I really wanted to do with my life.
We were learning the piece from past NYC Ballet principal Edward Villella (which is one of my highlights of my dance career thus far) and throughout the process he would share stories about what it was like to work with Balanchine and in the company. Really incredible experience. One story I later read in his book, Prodigal Son: Dancing for Balanchine in a world of Pain and Magic, talked about how he stopped dancing for a period of time to pursue an engineering degree... This dude is fascinating.
In his book, he says that his years in college were crucial to his development as a dancer. However, he never had any real interest in becoming an engineer. The reason it was crucial was because it gave him experiences outside of dance that helped him avoid becoming a performer that was “too ascetic or pretentious.” Basically, having life experiences and learning something outside of dance, energized his true passion of being a ballet dancer. After he got his degree he has never touched it or found any use for it. Even after he injured himself and stopped dancing at 36, his knowledge and experiences continued to propel his career.
“But Brandon,” you might be thinking, “he was a principal dancer for NYCB, he doesn’t need an outside degree because he is just so incredibly talented. We normal people should have one, just to be safe.”
To me, if you believe this, you are already setting yourself up to fail. You are already saying, “Something bad is going to happen to me and I will no longer be able to do what I love, so I should be prepared for when that happens.”
But what about the other side. What if I make it? What if I’m the one still doing five pirouettes constantly at 42? What if I get to do what I love everyday and inspire someone else to do the same? To me, that is logical because I know it’s possible and I’m willing to do what it takes to get there.
But what is my back up plan? ….Can’t say I have one right now. I’m too focused on how my plan A is going to succeed.
Am I happy I got my second degree? Yes. I am so happy I got my degree outside of dance. However, not for the reason of using it in my post grad life. It was more important for me to finish something that I started and following up on an agreement I made four years prior. If I were to go back, I would take all the classes that sounded interesting to me that I didn’t take because I “had” to take certain classes in order to earn my degree. I’d have the time to take an extra technique, photography, planet drawing, star gazing, etc. class. The point being, wouldn’t we all be more productive with our time if we always put our energy towards developing our passions and interests?
Well this is kind of fun… a little late night blog posting for you on this Thursday nights. It’s like the Late Night Show of blog posting… only I have limited funny one liners and no famous celebrity guests to surprise you with…. Yet. However, this Thursday update is intentionally late because I wanted to talk about today and, more specifically, the grind that took place today.
As most of you know, I have now been located in Chicago, IL for four months now (If you are just now being informed of this, please click here), and since day one I have been on, what I call, the grind. Basically, the grind is my day in/day out activities that I feel are furthering my career in the dance industry and/or making that check so I can actually afford food and shelter. For the most part, I work 7 days a week dancing, teaching, choreographing, and (for the time being) slinging pizza. This has been my “new post grad life” since August and this week I realized how stellar it all is.
This morning, I had a private session with one of the dancers at Visceral. We got to talk about performance quality, injury prevention, and the difference between risk and control. Few things are more satisfying than seeing a young dancer grow and understand.
From there I hit up a ballet class at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. Nothing like a solid ballet class to make you realize you should be taking more ballet classes. If you’re ever looking for a challenging ballet class in Chi-town, Ms. Birute is your teacher. That woman is in her 80’s and still teaching classes that leaves a room full of professional dancers breathing heavy.
After class I made it Dimo’s where I worked until 10 and headed home. I know Dimo’s is supposed to be my “just to get that check” job, but I’ve found more value in it lately. Because the company is so small and has so many opportunities for their employees to grow, I’m learning a lot about how a business functions through financing, marketing, and managing. Not to mention, I can sling a slice of pizza in under 15 seconds…. Maybe a cool party trick?
Anyway, the point of all this is to reflect on the grind. Some mornings may start too early, some classes might kick my ass, and some days I might burn myself while a drunk girl cries about a slice of mac n cheese pizza. At the end of the day, I can find beauty in two things: 1) I get to do what makes me happy everyday and 2) I’ve never cried about a slice of pizza.
Quick Updates that may/may not strike your interest....: I will be wearing a mouse, Russian, and Spanish costume very soon..... I may have an opportunity to run a flag across a stage....I own forks, plates, pots, and pans....I could be visiting a city near you very soon.....stay tuned.
This week has been full of reminiscing on the “good ol’ college days.” My friend Ryan (Currently with Lehrer Dance in Buffalo), came in for a night and a few of the UA Chicago people got together for a few drinks (or shots…) and caught up. Now keep in mind that that these guys all graduated in 2013 and I haven’t seen them all together since they graduated. I felt like a freshman hanging out with the cool upperclassmen hahaha. It was a solid night with good laughs and good stories.
The second time I had a college flash back was just last night. We were having our technical rehearsal for WITHIN and I was trying to figure out how all the lights worked. Somehow along the way I volunteered to call the lights for the show with Visceral’s Artistic Associate, Cheryl Mann. Neither of us have EVER called lights for a show, but after this weekend we will definitely be adding it to our resumes. I can see it now, “Brandon Coleman: Dancer, Teacher, Choreographer, and Lighting Designer.”
This situation brought me back to the stories my professors would tell at UA during class. I’d love listening to these stories that always started with “back when I was dancing with so-and-so Dance Company…” They would then proceed to talk about how they would have to do all the tech themselves and use what whatever was at hand. The whole situation made me laugh. I see myself 20 years from now telling my students “when I was with Visceral Dance Chicago…”
This upcoming week is going to be fun! WITHIN runs this Thursday through Saturday at Visceral Dance Center and then I am off contract with Visceral until January. However, I’m predicting an exciting end to 2015 so look out for a new post next Thursday.
ALSO… I’m someone who is inspired by the people around me. I learn from watching my peers or having conversations with people I respect/ look up to. For that reason, I want to share these experiences and people with the world.
Things I learned from Friends: Logan Stoneman [Founder of Logstone.co]
The Logan Stoneman 100 mile rule: Logan is a good friend of mine from UA who is also my big in SOPHOS (a club I joined my sophomore year of college). He’s one of those people that others describe as “such a great guy” and “dude has his shit together.” We all know this person. But Logan taught me a lot about the importance of maintain relationships and one of his guidelines is the 100 mile rule. This basically says, if a friend is within a 100 mile radius, you make an effort to see them. Ryan is actually a guest artist at Hope College this week in Michigan so it was the perfect opportunity to reconnect with him in Chi town. It was one night where I didn’t work at Dimos, or sub a dance class (aka. didn’t make that check), but it added so much value to my week that I wouldn’t have gotten from a check.
Two months ago, I packed up my car with everything I own and made the 12 hour drive from my moms house in Cranford, NJ to Chicago, IL. You really don't realize how crazy something like moving to a new city without a job or home is until two months after the fact... So what happened since then? So many wonderful/ unfortunate things.
- Landed a job with Visceral Dance Chicago. 60 days later and its still surreal.
- Slept on my friend, Cole's futon for a solid 46 days... probably one of the greatest gifts a friend has ever given me.
- Been working at a stellar Pizza joint in Wriggleyville called Dimos. If you've never served pizza to people at 3am...you may/may not be better off....TBD
- Had my car booted and towed (separate occasions of course...). Luckily my brother Connor took the car off my hands this past weekend. #Blessed
- Went on tour with VDC to Kansas City.
- Found a house in Logan Square conveniently placed above a dentist office.
- Cried at the River North Dance Chicago show.
- FaceTime became the most used App on my phone. #ColemanClan #UADance #NumberFour #Technology
- Taught my first classes in Chicago, and stating to teach even more.
- And most recently, preformed at the Harris Theatre for Music and Dance with Visceral Dance Chicago. An experience I will always hold close to my heart.
I now have a week off from VDC and decided to spend it in a Starbucks reflecting on my time so far... Conclusion: This are great and coming together. Now I just have to get the Wifi, gas, and electric going in my apartment... could be useful.
What a fun and productive weekend at POINT Performing Arts! From working on our stage presence (with some pretty sassy jazz walks) with the beginning dancers to focusing on getting into the floor and traveling with the advanced, these girls can work! I also loved working with two of my own teachers and mentors. Looking forward to our next reunion!
Had a fun first day in Springfield, MO! I taught a partnering workshop and focused on how partnering is a two way street and takes work from both dancers. These dancers from Point Performing Arts are so focused and willing to learn. This is going to be a fun weekend!
I spent the last month exploring Europe with my two brothers, Danny and Connor. We started by visiting my dad in Ireland and then moving on to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, and then back to Ireland to meet up with my sister Jill. My Facebook has a whole album dedicated to the adventures. Check it out! My Instagram has some awesome shots that you won't find on Facebook... Back in the US and on to the next adventure.