Jennifer Johns-Grasso founded BAA almost ten years ago, and I have to say that she is one of the genuinely nicest people I've ever met. She was so sweet to me and all the other campers during the five-day intensive, and she was kind of like a mother figure. I know she will be an excellent mom to her baby on the way!
I'm going to be honest, though, I was terrified the moment I walked into the Ripley Grier rehearsal space for "Summer Session 2." Would I be good enough? How would I measure up to the other kids? Would the staff like me?
Then, everything melted away. After an ice-breaker activity, I was no longer shaking in my jazz shoes, and I was optimistic that I would have fun throughout the week.
I was excited that we started with the dance call because I knew that was where I would feel the most comfortable. I thought it would be a good start to possibly calm my nerves that were threatening to paralyze me at that point. Thankfully, I was right. I actually was able to take class with Rachelle Rak, who appeared on Abby Lee's Ultimate Dance Competition. Luckily for me and the rest of the human population, she was nothing like the Dance Moms star.
After the dance call, we went to our major rooms. I was an acting major for the week, so we were required to prepare two contrasting monologues. Of course, of course, of course, of course, I forgot the second line of my comedic monologue. Great first impression. I basically did an internal facepalm. I did recover though, so not all was lost.
Soon, too soon actually, the first day was over, and I had survived. The thing was that I had so much more fun than I thought I would. I thought I was just going to be this ball of stress and worry the entire week, but I was okay. Slowly but surely, I was realizing that yeah, I really did belong in the BAA halls. I had auditioned like everyone else, and I had been accepted.
The rest of the camp was a total blur. Days went by so fast that I would be shocked when I took a glance at the clock. I had amazing, inspirational teachers who continued to make me have a strong sense of belonging. Bob Cline, Telly Leung, Eden Espinosa, Clay Thomson, Alexander Gemignani, and Adam Cates were just a few of the talented instructors that I was blessed to have class with. They all got very personal with us, and I wasn't really intimidated by any of them, which was nice because I was already internally intimidated enough by the idea of the experience.
Then, there's the infamous showcase at the end of the week. This really is an amazing opportunity because we got to present some of our work to a panel of industry members, but I was so scared that my whole body was shaking. Luckily, I forgot zero percent of my monologue this time, so there is that.
After the showcase, I was surprised that I felt this overwhelming feeling of sadness that the workshop was over. I don't know why, but I thought I would be relieved or proud. Instead, I just wanted the week to start all over again.
I talked to my amazing advisor, Drew, and my feeling of sadness was finally replaced by pride. I really did make it! I survived, but more importantly, I grew. I felt like I started the week at Point A and I successfully made it to Point B.
I would say that BAA is not only an beautifully constructed musical theatre program, but a wonderful program to build confidence in. My progress was definitely not just made in the realm of musical theatre. I learned lessons about myself that I doubt I could have learned anywhere else.
Follow BAA on Twitter and Instagram (@baaofnyc), and check out the website (broadwayartistsalliance.org) if you're interested in any programs. Happy kommenting :)