Making Moves

Feeling nothing but LOVE for you Chicago...You've provided me with a space to grow, explore, create, laugh, and learn. For that and so much more I am grateful and lucky. I'm making the move to NYC in at the end of the month BUT excited to share the Dance for Life stage with my incredible Chicago dance community on Aug. 19th. The adventure continues.... and more updates to come!
 

Photo by Chloe Hamilton

Photo by Chloe Hamilton

Summer Teaching: Chicago, Houston, Seattle...Oh Yes!

This summer has been unreal! So grateful for the studios and companies that brought me out to teach for them this summer. Started out with the Chicago School of Ballet and Hubbard Street Teen Intensive. The next week I flew to Houston and taught at METDance Youth Intensive and Pointe of Grace Dance Studio in my hometown of Katy, TX. Rounding out the Summer travel tour in Seattle working with South Sound Dance. Feeling inspired and motivated by all of these dancers.

The intermediate dancers from the METDance Youth Intensive 2017

The intermediate dancers from the METDance Youth Intensive 2017

SOLUS 2017: World View

Excited to be performing Becca Lemme/ Act of Matter's new work "Listen" for SOULS this year. Becca is such an intelligent dancer, teacher, and choreographer and created a work that challenges me to be patient and forgiving. I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with her. The work is also a collaboration with Chicago based photographer and world traveler France Leclerc whos photography from around the world captures the beauty and simplicity of life. SOLUS | World View runs May 11-13 at 1st Ward Events at Chop Shop in Wicker Park. Get your tickets HERE!

Photo by France Leclerc

Photo by France Leclerc

New Collaboration with Mia Leblon

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!

Cole and Riccardo on set for WWYD music video collaboration

Cole and Riccardo on set for WWYD music video collaboration

SpringFOUR with Visceral Dance Chicago

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

Free Fall by Brendan Fernandes

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!

Nutcracker Time

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 2016

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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

Down Time: Thursday Update

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!

Alex and I skating in Millennium Park. Found some spiked hot chocolate and lots of pros on the ice that day. Including one who was 3 years old....

Alex and I skating in Millennium Park. Found some spiked hot chocolate and lots of pros on the ice that day. Including one who was 3 years old....

You Can't Go Wrong with a Cocktail Hour: Thursday Update

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.

The Walsh Clan and I this weekend. Ideal people.

The Walsh Clan and I this weekend. Ideal people.


We Act and Do Until We Are

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.

Boy with Flag: Thursday Update

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…

Back Up Plan?!.... What do you mean?

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.

My signed copy of  Prodigal Son . Great book if you like dance and memoirs.

My signed copy of Prodigal Son. Great book if you like dance and memoirs.

“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?

My first time performing Balanchine's Tarantella. Just so much joy on this day. 

My first time performing Balanchine's Tarantella. Just so much joy on this day.