Many people would give up after going on over forty auditions in one year, knowing that the odds are not stacked in their favor. As a trained hip-hop dancer, that took only a few theatre courses, Aurelia Michael (‘08) was a non-union, African American female performer, with only two theatre shows under her belt, a big dream and an even bigger determination to snag a role in a Broadway production. This year, she realized a goal that was fueled years ago after graduating from University of Maryland’s School of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies. Though not without disappointment and hard work, Aurelia is proof that dreams do come true. Aurelia Michael is currently working on her first Broadway show, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.
Aurelia has been using her unique journey to encourage others to follow their passion and realize that there is more than one way to reach a goal. She not only believes that people can be multi-talented, work across disciplines and be successful but she implores people to embrace and explore all of their talents. Aurelia has a long list of dance and choreographer credits, but before landing a role on this musical about the Queen of Disco, Aurelia has also been inspiring others as a life coach, fashion stylist and motivational speaker. Aurelia started Confidence is KEE (K-NOWledge E-VALUation & E-XPERIMENTation) because she’s passionate about helping others realize their full potential. http://confidenceiskee.blogspot.com
How does a dancer land a Broadway role after only two theater jobs? We interviewed her to find out. Read more about the Aurelia Michael’s journey.
Tell us about the audition process?
After going on 42 auditions in 2017 and getting 40 rejections, I auditioned last April for an ensemble role and was cut. This allowed me to audition Summer.I showed up to the audition at 6am to sign in at 8am, so that I could audition at 2pm. I am not a singer but I had to sing, read and dance as a part of the audition. I had to break dance and dance in heels. My street style of dance training was a huge benefit.
What advice would you give to TDPS students that want to act in a Broadway Show?
Trust the process. I wasn’t the best student while at UMD and I could have done better. Take advantage of all the opportunities at TDPS. I was a hip-hop dance major that thought I would get asked to dance in a company, but that didn’t happen. Don’t get caught up in the no’s or the yeses that others get. No doesn’t mean you are not good enough. Know that a no may be what you need to leave room for the right yes. Trust your gift. Trust your talent, know who you are and what you bring that to the table.
How did TDPS prepare you for a Broadway role?
Honest conversations from professors that pushed me to work harder. I took a modern floor class with Giselle Mason and I grew in those 6 months as a dancer, person and woman. I was encouraged to go to NY for the Broadway Dance Center Program. TDPS inspired me to do more and to now want to inspire others. The TDPS professors will meet you where you are.
When I was at UMD the Performing Arts were not all together in The Clarice Performing Arts Center. I wish knew more about the theatre options or I wish I had cross studied and took more theatre classes.
What character do you play?
I am a “swing” cast member (Swings are vital positions in the cast of a Broadway musical. They need to be able to step into multiple roles on a moment's notice). I play twelve of the female roles, ranging from the sister, daughter to several ensemble roles. I am also the assistant dance captain.
How does the real life experience compare to the dream of performing on Broadway?
As a “swing” it’s a lot of hard work that is not always recognized and glamorous.
What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role?
Lack of experience. With only two shows under my belt (one seven years ago and the other a few months ago) I had to rise to the occasion. Working alongside castmates that have been in musical theatre since toddlers can be intimidating and trying to fill in seamlessly when needed.
My hope is to encourage and motivate current students by sharing the story of my interesting path during my undergraduate and postgraduate career.