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#18 Al Blackstone — What Happens When You Outgrow Your Dreams?

My guest on this episode, Al Blackstone, is an Emmy-nominated director, choreographer, and educator and the recipient of the 2011 Capezio A.C.E. Award for Choreographic Excellence.

Though well known for his witty and emotional work on the hit TV show So You Think You Can Dance, Al is perhaps best known for his original narrative style which blends dance and his own brand of theatrical storytelling.

Al talks about the transition from walking away from your comfort zone to throw yourself into something new, which is what he did when he made the transition from Broadway dancer to choreographer. We talk about what happens when you outgrow your dreams and how Al uses his work to bring people together to provide a shared experience that is meaningful. Along the way we talk about some of Al’s greatest teachers and mentors and what happened when he auditioned for Madonna.

In this episode we also discuss:

  • Jason Parsons
  • Pina Bausch - the work Al refers to is Masurca Fogo. The NY Times reviewed it here and you can watch some clips from the piece online.
  • Tremaine Dance Conventions and Competitions
  • Doug Caldwell - interview and tribute video
  • “The best story I have (from LA) is auditioning for a Madonna video. It was one of my first auditions. She was there, and she had all the boys line in a row and take their shirts off. Then she asked us one at a time what we thought about the war in Iraq.”
  • The Gyrotonic Method
  • Gaga - the movement research developed by Ohad Naharin (Artistic Director of Batsheva Dance Company). You can watch Mr Gaga, a documentary about Naharin on Netflix.
  • ‘meet cute’ - Wikipedia explains the term in film and television, a meet cute is a scene in which the two people who will form a future romantic couple meet for the first time.” I like this explanation from George Axelrod “Dear boy, the beginning of a movie is childishly simple. The boy and girl meet. The only important thing to remember is that—in a movie—the boy and the girl must meet in some cute way. They like normal people at, perhaps, a cocktail party or some other social function. No. It is terribly important that they meet cute.”
  • Watch Al’s Winning Work from the Capezio ACE Award Brown Eyed Girl
  • As I’ve developed a language as a choreographer I’ve also developed my style as a teacher. When I’m in a class, my role is to inspire, to give a challenge, to give information and to motivate. Ultimately as a teacher I’m drawn to bring people together to have a shared experience that is meaningful.”
  • “When I’m making anything i try to think about who I’m making it for and how I can connect to them or tell a story that will mean something to them.”
  • Freddie Falls In Love
  • The Joyce Theater(Manhattan) - book tickets to Freddie Falls In Love Jul 23 - Aug 4, 2019
  • 10 Hairy Legs (all male modern dance company) perform Brian, choreographed by Al
  • The Pizza Dance
  • Mr Bojangles

If you’ve never seen any of Al Blackstone’s choreography, begin with this teaser and then head to to see more.