Broadway Dance Center
Broadway Dance Center, located in the heart of Times Square in New York City, was founded in 1984 a "drop-in" dance training schools in the world, offering over 200 classes a week in Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Hip Hop, Theater and more. Dancers and performers such as Bette Middler, Brooke Shields, Britney Spears, Madonna, *NSYNC, Jason Samuels Smith, Almamy and Elizabeth Berkley have taken class or rehearsed at the school and many Broadway performers take class there daily.
Broadway Dance Center’s history is best understood by going back in time to New York City in the early 1980s. Aspiring dancers primarily came to NYC to vie for the chance to dance on a Broadway stage. That was the dream then, long before videos and pop stars. Choreographers like Michael Bennett, Bob Fosse and Jerome Robbins were creating brilliance on stage, while teachers like Luigi, Jamie Rogers, Henry LeTang, Phil Black, David Howard and Frank Hatchett were preparing dancers to become the versatile and technical performers needed for these great choreographers.
In another part of the city, long time New York City resident Richard Ellner, took his first tap class at 52 years of age. He was a great fan of Broadway musicals, such as Dancin', Sophisticated Ladies, The Tap Dance Kid and Cats. He was a business executive who fueled his love of the arts by taking jazz and tap classes. Richard took his first jazz class with Francine Sama (aka Frankie Anne) when the studio site at 1733 Broadway (Between 55th and 56th Streets) was known as Jo Jo's Dance Factory. His desire to expand his training led him to the legendary jazz teacher, Frank Hatchett at Hines-Hatchett, who later took on this location newly named Hines and Hatchett and co-owned by Mr. Frank Hatchett and Maurice Hines.
In the ‘80s Hines-Hatchett was like many small studios throughout the city. Studio owners had the demanding dual role of teaching while administrating their school. In 1984, Mr. Ellner assumed ownership of Hines-Hatchett, and renamed it Broadway Dance Center and set off to create a studio that would provide a new home for teachers and dancers. Each instructor was encouraged to contribute his or her personal style and expertise. Students enjoyed the convenience of frequenting one studio for diversified training rather than traveling throughout the city.
In the early years, renowned teachers joined BDC’s faculty and solidified the studio’s standing in the dance community. A strong word of mouth brought students from around the globe. Mr. Ellner wished to share the joy of dance class with everyone, not only professionals. He knew recreational dancers and would come together beautifully in their mutual love of dance.
Over the next fifteen years, the studio grew from a one story studio to three stories of creative and business space, and flourished under Richard’s leadership. His daughter Allison came on board and together they formed a strong partnership. In 1998, the property the studio rented was sold to make way for a high-rise/office building (newly addressed as 1740 Broadway). Being uprooted and forced to relocate, the studio faced a challenging and disappointing time. It proved overwhelming for Richard, who died just 3 weeks after the move to 57th street at the age of 69 of a heart attack.
The responsibility of securing the studio’s future fell on Allison’s shoulders. She felt determined to honor the legacy that her beloved father left behind and move the business into the next millennium. After seven successfully years at 57th Street, BDC was again faced with the dilemma of being forced to relocate in 2006. After a short interim period and with insurmountable support from the dance community, faculty and staff, BDC was able to rebuild its current state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Times Square.
Currently Studio Director Diane King maintains the integrity and generosity the studio is known for within the dance community.