Dancer To Watch: Brandon Hudson
Dancers To Watch
DANCERS TO WATCH are dancers just like you, who started out new and green. They stuck with it through thick and thin. Each, in their own way, attracted attention, not only to their work, but to the unique ways they delivered it. Bam. We knew what had to happen. DANCERS TO WATCH belongs on ANSWERS4DANCERS.
We needed someone just as unique to interview them. The hunt led directly to SUZY MILLER, a sassy, gifted, and engaging west coast choreographer-educator and dance-mom. She jumped at the opportunity.
When Suzy turned in the first episode featuring Kate Harpootlian, we cozied up immediately to her warm, witty, and dancer-friendly writing style. And so did the dancers she talked to. Today, we’re thrilled to say that it didn’t take long for DANCERS TO WATCH to become one of our most popular attractions. Enjoy these inspiring stories. Who knows, they might even help you create one of your own.
We are pleased to introduce you to Brandon Hudson: A Dancer To Watch
Before you read Brandon't story below, check out a music video for his single "UP" - Brandon wrote the music and lyrics and even directed the music video. This is the single release for a full LP that will be released in September 2016. Enjoy "UP":
Brandon Hudson is grounded. And calm. This 25-year-old handles his career with level-headed, yet spiritual, maturity. His unbeatable work ethic and never-say-die attitude are mixed with a bigger world picture – this guy believes in both solid goals, and a “trust the universe” philosophy. The combination has worked for him, creating a fantastic career spanning Broadway, Theme Parks, National Tours and more. Watch this quick 1:30 video to get a few glimpses of this baby-faced old soul; then read his story and prepare to be inspired.
Best Known Credits:
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (National Tour)
West Side Story (National Tour)
Disney World Theme Park
CiZE Exercise commercials with Shaun T.
25 QUESTIONS WITH BRANDON
Suzy: OK Brandon, are you ready?
BH: As ready as I’ll ever be!
Suzy: Good general life philosophy. Let’s start with the stats.
BH: Well, I'm 25, I live in NYC, I’m from Pekin, Illinois – population about 30,000.
Suzy: Small town! We have something in common; we both didn’t dance till we were 19 or 20.
BH: You, me, and Martha Graham! She started around 21.
Suzy: Edward Villella (NYC ballet) was also older when he started dancing. But he was a baseball player first, so he was an athlete. Were you?
BH: I was a competitive gymnast. Some say “You had a head start!”, but I wasn’t on parallel bars; I was a power tumbler, so my muscles were compact. I had zero flexibility. I could really jump though! Also, show choir helped train me in learning movement.
Suzy: I know you went to College …?
BH: (Laughs) 3 of them! I got a BA in dance. I loved college. I started for Spanish Translation and Visual Arts - painting, taking pictures… the arts; in the same realm; but different. Dance uses my whole body as the canvas.
Suzy: Rewind: 3 colleges?
BH: In 5 years! At the first one, I got into the business… my friends auditioned for 6 Flags Theme Park, and they had an extra spot in the car. “Where you guys going?” “To audition at 6 flags.” “No way, can I come?” That’s literally how it happened, and now here I am in my apartment in New York City! It was a little audition in an office with me and one of the girls. They decided we were the quote-unquote “Dancers” in the group. Go figure. They said “We have 2 character slots; you guys can have them.”
Suzy: So you were already a good dancer.
BH: (Laughs) Good enough to be Bugs Bunny! That first college was close to home, but really expensive, so I did a semester in community college. Then I moved to Florida for the Disneyworld college program. A lot of the Disney kids were from St. Louis Mo; St. Louis completely has my heart. So after Disney, I flew there to audition for Lindenwood University, and was offered a scholarship. It wasn’t a ton, but it helped. Enough that I could pay my own way for the rest… and THEN I officially started dancing.
Suzy: So really, you went to FOUR colleges - gotta count Disney college! Tell me about that.
BH: Technically, it’s a paid internship. They give you housing, and take the rent from your check. They offer classes, but I was there strictly to work. I did Pluto, and Electric Parade dancing on a float.
Suzy: I assume Pluto was a promotion from Bugs.
BH: Haha! It was fun. We lived close to NASA. I watched the last nighttime space launch. Really cool.
Suzy: We see so many great things through gigs. Very Forrest Gump! What was your first pro theater job?
BH: At 21, I flew to NYC from college for a West Side Story audition. I’d just finished a community theater version of the show –I went straight from a kid’s version to the international tour! I was so scared; I’d never been to NYC before.
Suzy: What made you decide to go for it?
BH: I trust myself. For me, I believe in God, which keeps me in the right place. I trust my gut. My local director told me about the audition. “I can’t, no way.” The audition was Saturday, and on Friday I had this inkling, I just knew I had to go. I called my dad and said, “Dad, I’m not one to ask for money, I don’t like to do it, but will you buy me a ticket so I can leave tonight, and honestly, I think I can do this Dad.” He said, “Well, if you think you can do this, I’ll buy it.” I bought it at 3:00, and was on the plane at 6:00. Yep. I played A-rab. It was a new level, touring round the world in theaters that are hundreds of years old. Pretty different from community theater! I took 3 or 4 academic classes on the road to finish my degree.
Suzy: Where did you get your fantastic work ethic?
BH: My whole family has it. Also, my want and drive for something else. I knew as a kid there was something different about me, but didn’t know what. I’m always interested in finding out why I’m so different in this world, which pushes me to the next level – striving for what’s next, and to be better than the day before.
Suzy: Have you found an answer?
BH: It’s coming, but there’s so much more in life I have to do!
Suzy: Tell us about booking Hamilton.
BH: I like to replay this story because it’s the day things changed entirely. I had to audition for Hamilton multiple times while I was on tour with Joseph (and the Technicolor Dreamcoat). The last audition was the end of July. By August, I was waiting tables in NYC, like “Okay, it didn’t happen with Newsies, it probably won’t happen with this.” You think like that when you audition a lot, it’s your process. So 2 months later, I opened the restaurant at 5pm, and the phone rang. “You start rehearsal tomorrow, be there at 1:00.” I ran to the bathroom, dropped to the floor, and started bawling! My first Broadway show! I gathered myself together, wiped the tears off my face, went back out and told the owners I had to quit and why. They were sad but proud. I said “I have to finish this shift, I’m here to do the job! I’ll find someone to cover tomorrow.” They’ve been wonderful with me. A lot of NYC waiters are actors; even at work we’re all fielding emails.
Suzy: Yes, and how you leave a job is so important - it’s so smart to leave the door open. You were a swing in Hamilton. Man, I respect that; learning so many different tracks.
BH: It’s very difficult, and Hamilton is not an easy show! In 4-5 weeks I was taught one track; then I had to figure out the rest on my own, there was no time to rehearse.
Suzy: Grover was very taken with how bonded the cast was onstage.
BH: Honestly, every swing has their own take on bonding. Swing is different from doing the show every night. I love the cast, they’re wonderful, but as a swing you can’t necessarily bond onstage – you’re not there to bond; you have to focus onstage on your roles and not screw up.
Suzy: Why do you think you got the swing job?
BH: Could be anything– right place right time? Lucky?
Suzy: You’re too humble. I think it takes a specific kind of intelligence to learn multiple roles, retain them, and perform at the drop of a hat.
BH: My appreciation for swings is so much higher now. It’s beautiful the way they work, I have so much respect. To be prepared at a moment’s notice –
Suzy: Were you?
BH: Once 2 hours before the matinee, I was finishing dinner and … “You’re on tonight!” I ran to the theater to work it out; it was all on the opposite side!
Suzy: Dancers’ nightmare. Brandon, in your Dancers of New York interview, you said, “Earth without Art is Eh.” I love that! It’s my new mantra. You should put it on t-shirts and coffee mugs.
BH: I remember saying that! I laughed as well, it was funny.
Suzy: Watching your social media videos, I got a whole different sense of you – your free-spirited hilarious nerd side. I love that side! Does the uninhibited, some might say Dork (but only in the good way!) side of you help your career as well as the adult side?
BH: I release the dork when I'm around people I love and trust. And sometimes in the audition room. (Laughs.) It's hard to let go, but I've told myself people want to see this side of me. So I filter it into my business and adult life. Its just another risk that I'm choosing to take. I keep telling myself that being weird is okay; people like weird!
Suzy: Some of us LOVE weird. So, what obstacles or challenges have you had to overcome?
BH: That answer is still in the works. Yes, I’m a professional now, but I’m still learning, growing and facing challenges. Starting so late has made it feel almost impossible to catch up to dancers who have done it their whole lives. Even though I now work with dancers I’ve always looked up to, I find I’m missing things. I use challenges to become a better dancer and artist. I deal with obstacles by facing them head on. I actually prefer things to be extremely challenging as opposed to too easy.
Suzy: You’re making me feel so lazy! When did you join A4D, and why?
BH: I was new to the city, and needed more insight into this career. With this site, you find auditions, and you get to see fellow dancers booking work. It’s also a great tool to learn more about your competition!
Suzy: In a warm and fuzzy way as well as a business-savvy way. Any advice for entry level pros?
BH: Set a goal; once you surpass it, make another. Keep reaching above and beyond. When you feel you’ve done all you can, or if you’re tired … keep pushing more! Do your homework, do your research, train constantly, stay busy, have your survival job... but DON’T let it be your life. Stay positive and BE YOURSELF. I always say if you lead your life with love, everything else will fall into place.
TOP 10 THINGS BRANDON DID TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS:
- Took the gamble for important auditions, flying himself across the country for the most promising ones.
- Didn’t let starting late handicap him; worked even harder to catch up.
- Pro-active. As a swing, with short notice to go on, he immediately ran to the theater to rehearse by himself.
- Unbeatable work ethic.
- Faces challenges head on.
- Used A4D not only to join a community, but also to check out the competition.
- Continually sets new goals. He’s determined to keep learning and growing.
- Found a day job and established a solid relationship where he can come between gigs and work – they know they can count on him.
- Stays positive; no unnecessary angst slows him down.
- Maintains a sense of excitement of whatever comes next; sees life as a series of adventures, and is delighted by all he has still to do.
TOP 3 CHALLENGES BRANDON HAD TO FACE:
Challenge #1: STARTING LATE
Brandon didn’t start training until he was almost 20 years old.
SOLUTION: He got his feet wet with theme parks, then auditioned for a scholarship and got his B.A. in dance.
Challenge #2: ON THE ROAD OR OUT OF TOWN WHEN AUDITIONS CAME UP
SOLUTION: Brandon flew from Florida to Missouri to audition for a dance scholarship. He flew from Missouri to New York for the West Side Story audition. He traveled to New York multiple times while on a national tour, to audition for Hamilton. If he felt strongly about an opportunity, he trusted his gut and found a way to make it happen.
Challenge #3: NEW IN THE CITY
Brandon felt he needed to be better equipped when he first moved to NYC.
SOLUTION: He joined A4D, and used it to get insights, auditions, and know-how, and see what other working dancers were doing.
5 QUICK FUN FACTS FOR BRANDON:
We end the interviews with some quick "fun fact" questions. We gave Brandon 15 seconds to answer. Ready? Go!
1 - What's in your dance bag right now?
Umm, a singular knee pad (I don’t know where the other is, ha), my audition binder (with me at all times), and probably an old sweaty shirt; sometimes I forget to take it out after class :O
2 - What's your power snack?
A protein bar usually. And fruit snacks… they’re my ultimate weakness.
3 - Most embarrassing audition?
The day I went to an audition while on Amoxicillin, because I had a huge swollen lip. I literally had one singular Kylie Jenner Upper Lip. It was rough. I forgot the WHOLE audition and stood there looking crazy. 1., because I was on heavy meds, 2., because of my lip, and 3., because I was barely dancing.
4 - Who's your celebrity crush?
I actually don’t have one. Weird, right?
5 - 4 hairstyles you've had through the years:
2. “Baby” Justin Beiber hair
4. Bald again
To see more of Brandon, check him out on Twitter and Instagram at @brandonhudson90
Brandon has been a member of Answers4Dancers since Summer, 2013.
Note: After the interview, I went to Brandon's Facebook page, where I found this post:
'The biggest lesson I've learned so far in this industry is "Trust". I don’t mean trusting in people, because funny enough… you can't trust a lot of people (in and out of this industry). It's trusting in the path, trusting in the journey your life is meant to take. It's putting trust in the unknown. Trusting your choices whether they be good or bad. Trusting in yourself, and believing that you can do anything your heart desires. Happy Wednesday Friends. Keep chasing those dreams.'
For more information on all of Brandon's projects, be sure to visit his social media Twitter/Instagram - @brandonhudson90.
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