Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shimmy Exclusive Interview- Brian Friedman

The Breakdown-

I'm just finally back in the states teaching and it feels so good to be back to that. I haven't been in awhile and it's always the best thing because you feel like you're in shape and doing something to better the dance community. I was in Minneapolis last week where it was like 40 below- not my kind of weather- but I was working with the PULSE Tour. PULSE is incredible. It has just grown into something amazing. It started out about five years ago, when Wade Robson and myself did the first PULSE in New York as a one-off workshop. We drew in so many people and built it into something incredible. We would do it every year and different choreographers would be brought in and then I got together with Broadway Dance Center and we decided to make it a little more than it already was. That's when we brought Mia Michaels on and it was just incredible. We saw that there was definitely a future in it so Mia and I became creative directors and brought on the rest of the faculty.

In the era we're in right now, with reality tv the kids look up to the people that they see on tv and we felt that they'd be more receptive to learning because they trust us. We're in a position that they want to be in one day and we see great results from the kids when we do these workshops. They're crossing barriers that they've never crossed before. A lot of teachers say that they just can't get their students to perform, to break down that wall that they've put up and to really step outside it. We've seen more of that in the last two years of doing this then I think I've seen in a decade before.

Breaking down the walls is about no judgement. You have to fall before you can walk. You've got to make mistakes and you have to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. It's okay to feel that way. People that refuse to try will never make progress. I tell students it's an open place when you come into my room. I want to see you make a fool of yourself because then I'll know that you're really putting yourself on the line.

I was creative director on X Factor and we just finished the full season. I just got back from London last week and that project has finally set sail. We will be doing next season again and I'm in the process of inking other deals for other shows. Hopefully I'll be back on American television soon. It was hard for me having to leave So You Think You Can Dance but in the end I had to make the choice that was best for me. I miss the show and I miss getting to say my opinion because I feel like I have a lot to say! I think it's important for the kids that watch these shows to know that the choreographers, we're normal. We're exactly like them. we came from the same places as them. There's nothing different between us and the fans, we all wake up the same and we all have the same issues. Use us for inspiration and role models, but know that we're normal people. Don't ever place anyone higher than you.


I'm inspired by the kids because they are so eager to learn. It makes me want to give to them. I'm also inspired by the faculty that I teach with. They're all the biggest names in the business right now and they all have so much to share. I find myself evolving just by being around them. I use my relationship with my friends and family as inspiration. Music, art, travel- I get inspired by everything. It's important to have a life outside of what you do because you end up bringing that experience back to what you do.

You'd Never Guess-

I'd loved to choreograph for Michael Jackson. I'd love to do something for Madonna, she is great and that opportunity just hasn't happened for me. I think it's great to keep goals and I never feel like I've achieved everything because there's always somewhere else to go. I'm incredibly insecure and I'm my own worst enemy. People perceive me as confident but I think the reason that I keep moving forward is because I'm never completely happy with anything I do. I always think I can do better, could have worked harder and I think that's what drives me. I don't think people would expect that I'm completely insecure. I don't mind that I haven't worked with everyone that I want to, it just makes me work harder.

The Future-

I initially grew up immersed in theater. Musicals are something that I love and the first thing that I ever did was join a theater group even before I was in dance classes. I'm cheesy at heart. I went into the commercial world instead though. I would never want to be onstage doing theater but I would love to choreograph stage shows.

I see my future in more of an executive position. I want to start doing my own thing. Creating my own shows, creating my own product line. I already have my shoe and clothing line but I want to see it on a larger scale. It's incredible for me to go out and do PULSE and look at the kids out there. They're wearing my product! That just blows my mind. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that I'd have shoes, it's just crazy for me to think. I remember being a young dancer going to conventions and I had on my Tremaine jazz shoes and it was a huge thing to think that these people actually had shoes you could wear. Not only am I taking from this person, but I'm wearing there shoes. To know that I've reached a level where people either want to dance like me or feel the way I do, it's a pretty surreal feeling! I chased this idea down. No one brought a deal to me and said, "Here, do you want to make a shoe?" I had to chase it down and make it happen. It's good for kids to see because you can chase down your dreams and you can make anything happen. You don't have to wait for things to come to you.

Photos: Lee Cherry, Nicola Majocci

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