My Career Choice: Tricia Brouk – Director, Choreographer, Actor

Tricia Brouk is a triple threat. She’s a director, a choreographer, and an actor. She is currently directing and choreographing Carson – The Musical, about the late talk show host, Johnny Carson. She wrote, directed and choreographed Dancing Through It, which played in August at The Cherry Lane Theater in New York. Committed, which she also wrote, directed and choreographed had a sold out run at The West End Theater in New York and City Repertory Theater in Palm Coast, Florida. 50 Shades of F****D Up, A Musical Parody, which she also wrote, directed and choreographed has been produced at The Red House Theater in Syracuse, Sophie’s on Broadway and Stage 72 in New York. She has directed and choreographed, The Taffetas, I Love You, You’re Perfect Now Change!, Bingo, The Winning Musical, Popesical. Broadway Varietease, Erotic Broadway, Vintage Variety and Frankie and Debbie Live at the Martini Lounge.

She also choreographed Zombies: A Musical at Playwrights Horizons and the Off Broadway Tokio Confidential at Atlantic Stage 2. She choreographed and produced and danced in a one woman show Dining Alone at Dance Theater Workshop and created work for The A Train Musicals, The Fred Astaire Awards as well as NYMF shows, Drift and Love Sucks.

In addition to theater, Tricia choreographed and appeared in The Affair for Showtime, Black Box for ABC, starring Kelly Reilly, directed by Simon Curtis, John Turturro’s feature film Romance and Cigarettes, where she received a Golden Thumb Award from Roger Ebert. She recently directed Sublets, a new series, airing in October. She also wrote, directed, choreographed and dances in Rolling in The Ring of Fire, a short film. Her choreography can also be seen in Denis Leary’s Rescue Me starring Steve Pasquale and in Lasse Hallstrom’s The Hoax, starring Richard Gere.

Tricia is a member of The Screen Actors Guild, The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Dramatists Guild of America, New York Women in Film and Television, and The League of Professional Women in Theater. Visit her website.

_MG_8873Can you point to one event that triggered your interest in your career?
It’s hard to say one event, because my career has evolved from being a dancer to a director/choreographer and writer. But, when I was a kid, I went to my sister’s dance recital. I was seven and she was four. She was dressed as a pink poodle. I was sitting in the audience thinking, “That’s what I want to do. I want to be on that stage, not sitting out here.” I asked my Mother to immediately enroll me into dance school in Arnold, Missouri. Lillian and Sharon DeNoyer, a mother daughter team, taught me tap, ballet and jazz. They both did toe-tap and Lillian was in vaudeville. They were the real deal.

What about this career choice did you find most appealing?
I never thought about dance or the performing arts as a career choice, until I went to college and pursued a degree in dance.I trained at Stephens College and we had teachers from New York come in and teach master classes. And at that point, I thought, I want this to be my career.

What steps did you take to begin your education or training?
I moved to NYC and got scholarships at Paul Taylor and Cunningham schools.I wanted to dance with a company and tour the world. I spent several years dancing with smaller pick up companies and then got hired to dance with Lucinda Childs, where I did tour the world. It was all about preparation meeting opportunity.That’s really been continuously true for me. I show up ready.

DreamshootAlong the way, were people encouraging or discouraging?
Being a dancer was not easy. I auditioned for everything and got only a handful of jobs that way.It wasn’t until I accidentally became a director/choreographer that things opened up for me. I found that being on the other side of the process was far more empowering for me as a woman and as a director/choreographer. I could tell the story I wanted to tell. I didn’t have to rely on other people to work and create. I could make my own work. I could create any time I wanted. That’s how I became a writer as well. The first show that I wrote came out of a situation, where I was asked to direct a show. I said, “Sure, get me a writer”. That process seemed to take forever, so I just decided to write it myself. I guess my impatience in that moment was a good thing.

Did you ever doubt your decision and attempt a career change?
I never made a conscious choice to move from dancing to directing and choreography. That’s why I say I accidentally became a director/choreographer. It never entered my mind. Until I got a call from John Turturro. He was making a film that was a musical (Romance and Cigarettes) and he needed a choreographer. I assisted Margie Gillis on the project and then became the choreographer on the film. I literally opened myself up to the universe and said yes. Being on set with John was a master class in film-making. He’s brilliant and accessible. He’s kind and also eccentric. I loved working with him and learning from him. He taught me how to take risks. In film, I can force the audience where to look, unlike choreography for the stage. On the stage, you can light an area where you want an audience to focus, but the audience can still look elsewhere. In film, I can put the camera on a dancer’s elbow or an actor’s nostril and tell the story I want to tell. Dance is three-dimensional, but film is two-dimensional so I wanted to use the camera like one of the dancers so that the audience could feel the movement of the camera alongside the movement of the dancers. This is still true when I direct. I treat the camera as one of the actor/dancers, when I’m blocking a scene.

When did your career reach a tipping point?
My career is at its tipping point right now. I recently had the fortunate experience of working with the amazing Simon Curtis, who is an incredible director. I’ve just directed my first web series, Sublets. And I’m directing/choreographing Carson The Musical, slated for Broadway. I began choreographing for film and television accidentally, then I began to direct theater accidentally, then I began to write out of necessity. I’m certain now, that there is nothing accidental about my career, but how it all happened was a chain of events, I did not see coming.

Can you describe a challenge you had to overcome?
As a female choreographer, there is far less sexism in the business. But as a female director, I have to speak a little more authoritatively. I have to prove myself the second I walk in the room, or the rest of the day is spent earning trust. It’s subtle, but it’s true. That’s something I hope to change for myself and for up and coming women directors.

What single skill has proven to be most useful?
Saying yes has proven the most useful skill I have. I always say yes, and then I go and do my homework. If I don’t know how to do something, I will say yes to the project and then work tirelessly, until I know everything there is to know about it. I do a lot of research for all my projects, whether it’s mental illness, zombies, or puppets. I love that part of the creative process.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I recently wrote the eulogy for my Dad’s memorial. I’m proud of that.

Any advice for others entering your profession?
Show up prepared and say yes.