The Broadway Dance Center was born from the passion of Richard Ellner, who decided to take up tap dancing when he was fifty-two years old. A lifelong fan of Broadway musicals, Mr. Ellner made the decision to purchase the Hatchett-Hines dance studio in 1984, and make it his own. His dream was to provide a home for teachers and dancers, in every realm, who would lend their own personal style to one studio instead of having to travel throughout the city to receive training. Due to its talented staff, BDC gained popularity, drawing students from across the globe. Over the next fifteen years, the center grew under Mr. Ellner's guidance and his vision of sharing the joy of dancing with both recreational and professional dancers. In the beginning of 1998, Allison, Mr. Ellner's daughter, came on board to help her dad run the business until his death. She went on to fulfill his vision and grew the company exponentially. Having occupied several floors on 57th Street for some years, the BDC settled into its current location in 2006. At this, a state-of-the-art facility on 45th, Mr. Ellner's legacy lives on in many of Broadway's most illustrious theaters. When we went to visit BDC and observe some of their classes, we had the pleasure of engaging in a conversation with Aja Washington, one of the hundreds of dancers taking a class that day. We learned that she is originally from Nashville, but came to Manhattan with dreams of becoming a professional dancer and choreographer. Her first stop was BDC where she enrolled in their four-month long professional program, taking twelve classes a week – most of which were hip-hop and contemporary, along with one master class. Although those dreams may still be in the works, Aja says that coming to BDC has given her much more than she ever expected. "I have been living in the city only a year now, but I feel at home as I have become a part of the community at BDC. "The BDC community not only nurtures its dancers, but also helps them reach their goals, whether personal, like Richard Ellner’s, or professional, like Aja’s. One of the classes we watched was in advanced hip-hop, taught by Joanna Numata. An accomplished dancer, Joanna was a treat to observe in action. The students – clad in the bold prints, full body jump suits, and harem pants that PR Director April Cook predicted would be in vogue in two years – quickly picked up the moves and had pulled together an impressive routine by the end of the hour-and-a-half-long class.
Japan-born ballerina Yumiko Takeshima began designing dance wear in 2002. Now in multiple locations across the globe, her boutiques specialize in custom pieces for both male and female dancers. At her petite flagship store on 46th, Manhattan dancers, and those visiting from out of town, are able to stop in and work with a staff member to shop for the perfect leotard in an assortment of sizes, colors and design. Or, Yumiko offers a large ready-to-wear line and a selection of exclusive Black Label items, created by the designer herself, that customers can leave with on the day of their visit.