Whether it’s acting, singing, designing or dancing, everyone possesses a gift. Often times we don’t realize that gift until we’re given the opportunity to use it. At a young age, Anthony Burrell was given a chance to discover his gift and he hasn’t stopped moving since.
You may remember Burrell from ‘So You Think You Can Dance Season 7″ where he was noted as by the judges as the “Best Dancer in New York”. I had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with Burrell as he explained his journey and how with practice and discipline, dancing- his gift, came natural.
Growing up in Philly, dance wasn’t Burrell’s first choice for a extracurricular activity, “I was one of the regular guys who got selected by the after school program because my grades were good.” says Burrell. But after performing a few times he noticed, “I would get the loudest applause, I would get the special parts, I would be the one in the front, I would always be the only boy in the group that could catch on quickly. I saw that I had this natural ability,” he explains.
“My first performance was outside at a street festival and I was in tights and a devil tail and my peers saw that, people that I went to school and grew up with. From that moment I was teased, tormented and called names. I was tormented for doing what I really loved,” he explains. “But the director encouraged me and told me that if I really wanted to do this, that they would sponsor me and give me a scholarship…They saw something in me early on.” says Burrell.
Since that moment, Burrell has choreographed and danced behind some of the industries biggest celebrities such as Beyoncé’, Rihanna, Katy Perry and Mary J. Blige. Now, Burrell will be stepping out from dancing behind the leading act –to being the leading act. Lately, he has been on the national Broadway tour of “Come Fly Away”, as the principal dancer, choreographed by the legendary Twyla Tharp and the music of Frank Sinatra. He is also starring in a new movie called “The Skinny”, directed by the award winning Patrik-Ian Polk. A movie based on four male friends reuniting in New York for gay pride weekend a year after their graduation from college; when they get together, temptations and old habits began to resurface and threaten their friendship.
“It was smooth,” says Burell of the transition from dancing to acting. But as an artist he does believe in training and preparation. Before landing the role, he was already the lead dancer in a Broadway show and while keeping his body fit for dancing, he landed the role in “The Skinny”.
“While I was shooting the movie I was rehearsing for the Broadway show that I’m in now, so I would be rehearsing during the day and shoot [the movie] at night,” he explains. With the help of his cast mates from the movie, everyone encouraged Burrell letting him know that his acting skills were great, even though he was dancing a few hours prior to shooting the movie.
Since premiering, “The Skinny” has been receiving great reviews across the globe. Burrell says that after he is done touring, he going to take time off to hone in and improve his acting skills by taking classes and rehearsing.
For people who believe dance is their gift, he offers this advice, “For people who love to dance, they know what to do; with dance and love I followed my dream. With dedication, determination and discipline, I stuck with it. I believed in it wholeheartedly and I trained, I took classes and put in the time.”
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Preview The Skinny here: http://youtu.be/gtoE9FJErmk