What makes up a story? And why is storytelling so important? Stories include facts, events–a beginning, middle and an end. But that is not what gives you the full scope of what happened. The facts are the bones of the story. The muscles, tendons, ligaments, and injuries are the parts that connect us on the journey of the story. The details, the relationships, the surprises, the incongruities– they lead us to our hearts. Stories connect us. When we need to heal we turn to a story. When we need to share, we tell a story.
At BAC we emphasize that we are all storytellers–no matter what age or level you are at. And our job first and foremost as teachers and performers is to inhabit our own story, and then learn to inhabit the stories of others. We continue to find arts education as a powerful means to learn about the art of storytelling and how it can teach empathy, give people a positive healthy outlet to experience their emotions, and find a community of other artists and teachers who share a common sense of connection and care for each other and the world at large.
The story of how BAC started is a special one. And it starts with me meeting Chryssie. Chryssie and I met in the summer of 2001 in an airport in Chicago. I was joining the First National Tour of “Fosse” as a new cast member, a “Swing,” which at that time I didn’t even know what that was! I remember sitting across from Chryssie at the gate while she talked on her cell phone–yes a 2001 version of a cell phone—and she was laughing, charismatic, gorgeous, and exuded a warmth and positive energy. Eventually she introduced herself and we immediately had a fun time talking.
CUT TO me, exhausted and asleep on the flight, sitting in a different location than the rest of the class as I was a late addition, and Chryssie every 30 minutes or so sneaking up to my seat to see if we could gab more. I remember see this vision of a tall figure with long hair through my squinted, airplane-dazed eyes and even though I could not wake up, I felt safe and had an internal smile because I knew I had made a friend. 17 years later, we own a business together, have been at each other’s weddings, roomed together on tour and in Los Angeles, and done countless gigs. We’ve been through the ups and downs of our careers and lives.
The story of Broadway Arts Camp began when a friend suggested I start my own musical theatre camp in Los Angeles. I started doing small weekend intensives, Triple Threat, and then realized the only way this could grow would be to join forces with my Soul Sister and Teacher Twin, who was doing a very similar thing on the East Coast with her company, DASI. I called Chryssie on an April morning and said “I bought a URL and I think we should join forces and do this together.” Without hesitation Chryssie said yes and was already building our first website by the end of the phone call.
BAC 2017 summer we had 12 students. This past BAC 2018 we had 33! I’m so grateful we took that leap of faith– with a 17 year friendship to back it up, and with the passion and knowledge we knew it would take to create Broadway Arts Camp. BAC is the culmination of years of hard work, a beautiful friendship, and a desire to pass along what we’ve learned working in the Entertainment Industry for over 18 years–our story.
Chryssie says it to our students all the time, but I’ll say it here to make sure you see it written. This career in the Entertainment Industry, is all about relationships. And I don’t mean the kind just to “network”– when you want to get to know a person so they can possibly do something for you. I mean the kind of relationships you create when you do a camp like BAC, or work on a musical or rehearse a performance for a fundraiser. Those relationships and stories help us stay grounded, positive and persistent in a very unpredictable career field.
BAC, as one of our students from Sweden said stands for “Brilliant. Advanced. Cozy.” The brilliance our students bring to the work, the advanced place we get to from the intense work we do, and the cozy family, safe space we try our best to create each day during BAC. We do that through sharing our story and sharing stories with each other.
Our mantras are “The joy is in the work” and “Practice makes progress.” We emphasize the whole student–not just the parts of their talent that involve performing. What makes us different is the safe environment we create to explore, collaborate, grow, make mistakes, learn from them, continue to fail upwards and have fun the whole time! Our students become family, and it is evident in the community we create. And in the end, we teach that community and relationships are the best part of life AND certainly a career in the Entertainment Industry.
Bring your story to BAC in 2019 and let’s create a new one together. #BAC2019 #BACFAM