The air in in a dance studio in Point Loma’s Liberty Station on Monday night, was so charged with energy and excitement it probably could have lit the entire city. Students of all ages were there for a class taught by Broadway star Ariana DeBose, currently appearing in SUMMER: THE DONNA SUMMER STORY musical at the La Jolla Playhouse. She is also known as ‘The Bullet” from the original cast of HAMILTON; so the energy, hope, and ambition radiating off of the crowd was palpable.
When Ariana DeBose comes into the room, she
is radiates a genuine warmth and enthusiasm, with a smile to match. You can tell that DeBose is just as excited to teach as this group is to be taught.
This class was put together by Tamlyn Shusterman, a former Broadway performer and Rockette, and now who is a musical theatre dance and talent coach. Shusterman founded the Broadway Artists Connection, a nonprofit that brings together Broadway & aspiring artists to perform, make industry connections and give back to their local arts communities.
“I always say that artists & aspiring performers should never stop learning and growing,” says Shusterman. “Whether you’re a teenager, a professional performer or a teacher, to have the opportunity to learn from one with the depth of experience & passion as Ariana DeBose is invaluable and absolutely inspiring. I’m thrilled to bring programs like this, in partnership with Courtney Corey to San Diego performers.”
That would be Courtney Corey, the founder and Director of the Theatre Arts School of San Diego, and a former performer herself having been in the original Chicago and Los Angeles companies of WICKED, as well as the first national tour of RENT. The Theatre Arts School of San Diego is dedicated to teaching cornerstones of theatrical technique with a focus on the process of artistic learning.
All of this is what brings us back to Ariana in the dance studio with this class. She starts with high energy warm up, to a HAMILTON song as requested by the crowd; then she dives into some of the shows choreography for the lesson.
DeBose took them through the deceptively difficult Andy Blankenbuehler choreography and reminding them that it’s as much about the performance as the steps. “I’ve never gotten a job because I got the steps right, I got the jobs because I’m a good storyteller”.
Or when to make an moment out what can seem like nothing. “Stillness is your friend; sometimes it’s really striking if you stand still.”
At the end of the class there was as question and answer period where DeBose fielded questions ranging from school to, Lin-Manuel Miranda, how to take care of yourself as a performer, to transitioning from a dancer to a leading lady in SUMMER: THE DONNA SUMMER STORY, where she plays “Disco Donna.” Some people in the class had already seen the show and came prepared with questions.
DeBose closed out the class with these words of wisdom, “It’s not about the applause, I don’t care if you clap for me. What I care about is the connection, and it’s something that’s really special. When it’s really good there is nothing better.”
What a wonderful lesson for a generation of future performers.
To see Ariana DeBose in SUMMER: THE DONNA SUMMER STORY go to La Jolla Playhouse for show time and ticket information at www.lajollaplayhouse.org