Brandon Cournay 'chassé ball changes' from Julliard to become a dancer at Kegwin + Company and Morphoses!

Brandon Cournay is originally from Detroit, Michigan. He has danced with the Mark Morris Dance Group, and Kegwin + Company Extended. Brandon has performed the repertoire of Twyla Tharp, Ohad Naharin, Lar Lubovich, and Nacho Duato. Brandon has also performed in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and has appeared in commercials for Puma and Target. Brandon received his BFA from The Juilliard School. 

You can see him in action at the Joyce Oct 24-30th in Morphoses production of Bacchae. 

Additionally, follow his adventures through his social media links: 

When did you first begin dancing?

  • I have been chassé ball changing since I was ten years old. I signed up to do a musical theatre camp at my school and after that, I was hooked. I became obsessed with my teacher's Capezio jazz sneakers... So, I talked my parents into getting me a pair. You better believe I wore them to school, no shame.

What style of dance do you prefer and why?

  • I prefer anything that is physical, organic, and inspiring.

Who have you worked with in the past?

  • I am having this really cool journey performing in both commercial and concert dance. Professionally, I've worked with the Chase Bock Experience, Mark Morris Dance Group and I'm currently dancing with Keigwin + Company.
  • While in school, I had the honor of working on creations with Matthew Neenan, Nicolo Fonte, and Larry Keigwin. When we would learn pieces for our repertoire concert choreographers such as, Mark Morris, Lar Lubovich, and Ohad Naharin all came in to help set and coach their pieces that we were performing. It was such an amazing experience to learn and work with the creators of such brilliant works.

Who do you aspire to work with in the future?

  • I'm really inspired my choreographers such as Aszure Barton, Crystal Pite, Peter Chu, Hofesh Shechter.
  • I want to work with anyone that is really pushing the envelope in dance. I'm really interested in working with anyone who is creating something inventive, imaginative, and accessible.

Being a freelance dancer, how do you earn your living, ie: do you have side jobs
or skills you utilize for income?

  • Teaching and choreographing are what I consider my ‘side jobs.’ I really enjoy it though, so I rarely consider it work. Which is cool. I also judge for dance competitions on the weekends.

Have you attended college or another kind of training? What/where?

  • I received my BFA from Juilliard in 2009.

What is the most challenging thing about your career?

  • I'd have to say the most challenging aspect of my career is living a balanced lifestyle... in sort of a "work hard/play hard" kind of way. As artists we are constantly on, constantly learning and exploring; sometimes whether we like it or not. Specifically for freelancers self-motivation is vital, our schedule and intentions change daily. It's easy to cram your self- planned day with tons of classes, auditions, and rehearsals to benefit your work and not take anytime for yourself... And vice-versa. It took me a long time to learn that taking a little time for yourself can benefit your work inside the studio tremendously.
  • It took me a long time to learn that guilty feeling of skipping your 10am ballet class to go see the new Twilight movie will soon go away. I stress the time in this scenario because we all know that movie tickets are only $6.00 if you go before noon. Paying for a full priced movie ticket as a freelancer in New York emphasizes the obvious and biggest challenge that plagues us all... Finances.

What do you feel and think when you’re on stage?

  • On stage, I try to sensitize my whole body as much as possible. I like to pretend I'm performing in a theatre that's 360 degrees around and that the audience is seeing me at every possible angle. Even if the choreography has a specific direction, to me there is no front. I want to know and feel what my leg bones, arm muscles, ribs, fingers, eyes...etc. are doing at all times, wherever they are in space. When I bring awareness to my whole body I feel I am able to communicate better as an artist. It's no longer about executing steps physically, but about how I am using my instrument, my entire body to embody and enhance the artistry of the work.

How do you keep yourself motivated and maintain creative thinking during your
off time?

  • I like to see a lot of dance. I think it's important to educate yourself on what you like and what you don't... and more importantly, WHY you like or don't like something.
  • I also listen to music a ton, the little dancer in my head is constantly improving to something up there.

What is the most valuable advice you have received from a teacher or

  • Risa Steinberg, one of my mentors at Juilliard, was talking about evaluating feedback about your work. She said that if someone loves your work... awesome, if someone absolutely hates your work... awesome, but the problem comes when someone leaves the theatre without having an opinion of your work. I thought that was a very interesting statement.

What element, theme, or character from the Bacchae do you relate to most?

  • I relate most to the ever evolving pace and flow of the Bacchae. As well as the inspiration of the work, always looking forward to try something new.

What is the best/funniest/most challenging experience of the rehearsal process
thus far?

  • Best- Creating with such amazingly talented, diverse, and inspiring artists everyday. It’s been an honor to work and learn from such an eclectic group of dancers.
  • Funniest- Karaoke night!
  • Most challenging- Scooting up the stairs. At the Vineyard my thighs were so sore, I could barely walk!

For more information on Morphoses's production of Bacchae go