My name is Becca Shulla and I’m a Premier Dance Academy Alum. I wanted to share a little bit of what I’ve been up to these days. I’ve just returned to New York after attending Jacob’s Pillow’s Musical Theatre Program.
What’s Jacob’s Pillow you may ask? It’s the only National Historic Landmark that is completely dedicated to dance! Located in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, Jacob’s Pillow expands 220 acres and is a truly sacred place. Dance companies from all over the world travel there each summer to perform and experience the Pillow magic.
Getting accepted to the Musical Theatre program at Jacob’s Pillow was quite the extensive process. I attended a live audition in New York City, but also had to submit lots of video footage of me singing and dancing, along with some essays. The Pillow goes all over the world to audition so that the program can bring dancers from all over the world together. In the end, I got to work and perform with 23 dancers who were from a total of 9 different countries.
My time spent at Jacob’s Pillow was filled with long days of dance, rehearsal, vocal training, and master classes from artistic directors of the companies that attended the festival. The main focus of the Musical Theatre program this year was preparing for the development of a new musical entitled, BOY ON THE ROOF. Chet Walker was our director and choreographer, and alongside him was Playwright Shaun McKenna and Lyricist/Composer Stephen Schwartz. Let me reiterate. I got to work with STEPHEN SCHWARTZ (Who wrote Wicked, Pippin, Godspell….) as he composed and adapted his music for us on the spot. It was my first ever experience of a true collaboration between story, music, and dance and it was unforgettable. On the final day of the program, we got to perform at the Ted Shawn Theatre as we debuted the new work.
As far as future goals, of course it would be a dream to dance on Broadway! Although, as long as I am performing for my career and still love it, I will be happy wherever this crazy world of dance takes me.
If I can offer one word of advice to any aspiring dancer, it is to not limit yourself in your career goals. I grew up only wanting to be in a ballet company, yet now I find myself in my 20s absolutely loving musical theatre. So sign up for some singing lessons! Take those tap and hip hop classes (along with ballet of course) and keep your mind open! The dance world is a diverse and beautiful thing, and there is truly a place for everyone if your heart is in it.
If you want to learn more about Jacob’s Pillow and all it has to offer, I highly recommend checking out their website. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to book flights for next summer’s festival!
To dance, and all of the amazing possibilities!