By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK
Students at Ruth’s Dance and Fitness Co. learned about dance and acting from Ben Cameron, a working Broadway performer, Nov. 16.
Cameron is a writer, director, teacher, performer and host. He has appeared on Broadway in “Wicked,” “Aida” and “Footloose.” His touring credits include “Sweet Charity,” “State Fair,” “Fame the Musical,” The Who’s “Tommy” and “Footloose.”
Ruth Smrek Balestra, owner of Ruth’s Dance and Fitness, said it’s important to introduce her students to more than dance. To be a Broadway performer, song, dance and acting must fuse together, she said.
“I feel like if I get my students trained to the point where they’re amazing dancers it’s not enough, because once they make that decision to move to New York it’s not going to be enough,” she said. “They have to go the next couple steps, which is to learn how to act, to learn how to sing.”
So she invited Cameron to teach a workshop at the studio.
“He has this wide array of artistic skills. He can act, he can sing,” Balestra said. “He has a very animated personality.”
During the day-long workshop, Cameron worked with the students on jazz, ballet technique, modern dance and acting. They also worked on strengthening and conditioning. Participants ranged in age from 10-24 years-old.
His goal was to give the students techniques and ideas to make a scene come alive rather than just reading words. This would be useful in an audition setting if they were challenged to read a scene cold, he said.
“Which is always interesting when you’re working with dancers because sometimes they’re scared to express themselves verbally because they’re so used to using their bodies,” he said. “So it’s great to kind of break them outside of their comfort zone.”