IMTA Star in the Spotlight Bradley Rapier (IMTA Alum from L.A. and N.Y. 1989)
IMTA is pleased to present an exclusive Guest Article from Bradley Rapier, Creative Director, Performer, Choreographer and founder of the Award-Winning performance group, The Groovaloos. Bradley competed at IMTA in 1989 at both the L.A. and N.Y. Conventions. And now, in his own words, his IMTA story:
I can not overstate how significant it was to compete in Los Angeles at IMTA '89. After winning a Canadian talent search in my hometown of Calgary, Alberta, the idea of going to the entertainment capital for a snap shot of what may lay ahead was an important step and a great opportunity. I had previously been in a fairly successful street dance group back home so I had some experience, but this was a whole new ball game.
Arriving in LA I remember how nervous I was and sleeping was next to impossible. The first time everyone gathered in the main ballroom was a special moment and listening to the introductions and wild eruption of cheers by contestants from across the country only added to the excitement. We were so eager to share our talents and IMTA did a great job instilling confidence in all the competitors. Meeting people with similar dreams and building relationships was an invaluable part of the convention. Among others it's where I began a lifelong friendship with Howard Dell. He and I met in Canada but we really bonded as friends during IMTA. A singer, actor and athlete with an amazing story, Howard and I not only cheered each other on during the competitions, we stuck together as roommates for years after the convention as we ventured across the United States.
First, in LA I was honored to win the dance solo and had honorable mentions in acting and modeling. Helen Rogers asked for a repeat of my dance solo at the awards ceremony which I still fondly remember. It was a blessing and a surreal joy to perform for the entire group. That encouragement helped in my decision to move to Toronto where I jumped into more training, acting classes, runway shows, and more in preparation for IMTA New York that fall. The work paid off as I was not only able to grab the top solo spot again in the dance solo, I won dramatic monologue, and soap operas along with other honorable mentions including one for talent of the year. And then, two people I can never thank enough really stepped up to bat for me...
Joan Stephens and Arthur Bronfin, just an incredible couple from NY had closely followed my progress from Canada and throughout both conventions. Joan was an acting coach and Arthur had a talent and modeling agency. At the end of IMTA NY they approached me to say, "you deserve a chance to make it in the US, we would like to sponsor you so that you can work here"... I was floored! Such an amazing, generous thing to do. Many things have happened since then and I now reside in LA, but so much of it began there. Even my agent Julie McDonald who I've been with for over 20 years was the result of Joan and Arthur connecting me with an LA agency (initially called JH&R) that was headed up by another supporter of mine, Cindy Kazarian.
Since IMTA I've definitely had my share of challenges and tough times getting established in a new country and in LA. But over time with plenty of prayer, perseverance, positive attitude, patience, and some good old sweat things took shape!
As a dancer I've performed on two Superbowl Halftime shows and with performers such as Diana Ross, Queen Latifah, Brian McKnight, Cameron Diaz, Boys II Men, Deborah Cox, Brenda Russell, Cheryl Lynn, and Regina Belle, The Temptations and Fat Boy Slim. I was initially drawn to the industry by the incredible spirit I felt behind freestyle dance culture. To that end in 1999, I founded and am the creative director, choreographer and a performer for an award winning dance company called The Groovaloos. Our highlights over the years include special guest performances on So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars, Ellen, Jimmy Fallon, and winning the overall grand championship on NBC's international competition series, Superstars of Dance. Working from true stories within our group I was able to co-create and am director of choreography for GROOVALOO, a theatrical stage production that has over 200 performances nationwide including Off Broadway. And as my abilities in theater have grown I've been able to choreograph for leading NY directors such as Des McAnuff and Tommy Kail plus the great honor of having my work come to Broadway in 2012 as associate choreographer for the Tony Award-nominated production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
I absolutely love the creative process. When inspiration flows in a room and simple ideas twist, turn and grow into complete concepts, there's nothing like it. I love being in the moment when you get those 'magical' impulses and clear visions of what can be. It's a humbling and energizing feeling all at once. And when ideas on paper become actual pieces and movements that tell a story and inspire others it's amazing.
As I said I've had challenging times in my life but it's been so important to remain thankful and choose to focus on the good things. I have been able to travel, teach, judge and perform across North America, into South America, South Korea, Japan, Europe and beyond. I've been honored with an Ovation, NAACP, and World Dance Awards for choreography and performances. And I have an incredible wife and three beautiful children.
Competing at IMTA was a huge stepping stone for me. It greatly added to my confidence, with experiences and relationships I have to this day. To future IMTA contestants I would say to really make the most of this experience. Enjoy and treasure your time but dig in and work hard. Take risks and go for it. Absorb all you can, build relationships, learn from everyone, ask questions, and remember you will always be learning. And believe in things greater than yourself, to keep it all in perspective.
Something people don't know about me, hmm... I cry like a baby at movies and I hate cilantro!
God is good!
Bradley Rapier's Awards
IMTA LA '89:
1st place - Dance category (solo)
Selected Performer at Awards Ceremony
Honorable Mentions: Commercial Print, TV Commercials, Soap Operas and Smile:)
IMTA NY '89:
1st place - Dance category (solo)
1st place - Dramatic Monologue
1st place - Soap Operas
2nd runner up: Sitcoms
Honorable Mentions: Commercial Print, TV Commercials, and Talent of the Year