By Laura Allardyce
Broadway Workout began holding classes at the Glebe Community Centre last January, and the popular class is back this winter for a 10-week session and a brand-new lineup of musicals spanning decades.
Broadway Workout has attracted a variety of people of different ages, abilities and body types who all have one thing in common – a love of Broadway musicals. In a one-hour class, cast members learn original choreography to a popular Broadway show tune and in the process get a total mind and body workout. The goal isn’t to perfect the moves, it’s just to move and have fun. And since we do a different song each week, you can join any time; there’s no catch up.
In the past year, Broadway Workout has danced to over 30 songs, from the brand-new Tony-winning musicals Hadestown and Beetlejuice to classics like A Chorus Line and Anything Goes. This variety is part of the broad appeal that has attracted a range of participants, including including early-adopter Margaret Lavictoire, Grade 11 student Jeanne St-Pierre and Hannah Sunley-Paisley, a former professional basketball player turned novelist.
All three discovered Broadway Workout in different ways, such as hearing our interview on CBC morning radio early last year, browsing the GNAG program guide for a beginner dance class or through word of mouth.
Lavictoire had been looking for a Broadway-style dance class and was at the very first class during the preview weeks last January. “What kept me coming back to Broadway Workout was the great choreography,” she said. “It is challenging but manageable in a one-hour class. And the fun, no-judgment camaraderie.”
St-Pierre was also looking for a Broadway-style class. “I had wanted to try dancing for a while, but since I was a beginner, I wanted to start slowly,” she explained. “I was searching for classes that weren’t very technical and where I wouldn’t necessarily need experience to fit in. Furthermore, I love musicals so the class was a good fit for me.”
Sunley-Paisley heard about Broadway Workout from a friend. “Now that I am retired from professional basketball,” she said, “ I’m trying to do all the things that I didn’t have time for or didn’t think was okay for me to do.” Her challenge was letting go of the internalized biases that said her six-foot-one athletic body built on a lifetime of competitive sports had no business dancing. For Sunley-Paisley, Broadway Workout was the perfect opportunity to practise letting go of those judgments. “I just liked learning how to use my body in a different way. I was happiest when I felt like I improved at something or got a move I couldn’t do before. Those were my favourite times.”
Sometimes it is the movement that goes with a song that makes it a favourite. For St-Pierre, it was the choreography that made her pick stand out. “My favourite number was from Waitress. I didn’t really know the song before. However, I listened to it on repeat during the whole week prior, which made me really look forward to that class. Plus I loved how many spins and turns were incorporated into the choreography.” Lavictoire’s favourite number, shared with many Broadway Workout members, was from the true tale of generosity and heart in the face of a world-changing tragedy, Come From Away.
Coincidentally, both these shows have come to Ottawa’s National Arts Centre. We like to feature numbers from shows that run here so you can go to see and experience it; part of the fun at Broadway Workout is pretending for one hour at a time that you got the part. And considering that Cats is coming this winter, you can bet there will be a Jellicle Ball in our future; you’ll want to be in the room when it happens.
Join the cast of Broadway Workout Wednesday nights at the Glebe Community Centre from January 15 to March 25. Register at gnag.ca.
Laura Allardyce is the owner/operator of Broadway Workout. She created the class because she loves Broadway and just needed to dance to show tunes with like-minded people. Visit BroadwayWorkout.ca.