Getting to Know Proctor’s Broadway Camp Choreographer Freddy Ramirez

SCHENECTADY – It is summer, after all, with summer camp season in full swing. If your memories of summer camp include mosquito bites and swim tests in muddy waters, you clearly weren’t one of the lucky kids who attended Proctor’s Broadway Camp.

The musical theatre-focused program is producing “The Prom” this year. Hosted by Proctor’s Collaborative, the summer camp gives young actors hands-on training to prepare for a career in the theatre.

Students ages 14-19 have auditioned and begun rehearsing, working together to bring the production to the main stage later this month.

Nippertown was lucky enough to talk with Freddy Ramirez, the program’s choreographer, for an interview about the program, his experiences in the arts, and what our viewers can expect from the production on July 28 – 29th. Ramirez, a professional choreographer for over 20+ years, is lending his insights and guidance to the young stars.

I asked Ramirez how Proctor’s Broadway camp differs from other theatre camps, as there appears to be an abundance of youth opportunities in summer theatre.

From 2022’s Broadway Camp, “Into the Woods” – Photo Provided

“The Proctors Broadway Camp is a highlight because it employs professionals in the musical theater world to train the students,” Ramirez explained. “The Director, Choreographer, Musical Director, and Stage and technical crews are all working professionals. We have been involved on Broadway, as well as both national and international tours. This is our livelihood, and we are passing down the knowledge that we have gained and continue to gain through our professional careers. We have been on both sides of the table, as they say. We have auditioned, performed in, and have created professional productions. The experience we share with the students makes our education of up-and-coming theatre talent different from other camps.”

The programming is demanding and offers students first-hand experiences with every aspect of the field. But the students are in good hands with Ramirez, a seasoned choreographer and teacher.

“After performing professionally for 20+ years, I began teaching and choreographing as the next chapter of my career in 2012. I created the Broadway dance class series, where I teach ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, and Street jazz. Subsequently, I began choreographing for Capital Rep in Albany. I also taught for the Northeast Ballet Company and Proctors Broadway Camps. I am also currently serving as an adjunct instructor of Dance at Union College.”

From 2022’s Broadway Camp, “Into the Woods” – Photo Provided

Ramirez is clearly passionate about theatre and education. “All of these opportunities have been a wonderful experience as they have allowed me to be able to share my passion and the knowledge I’ve gained in my career with students of all ages,” he explained.

So I asked him the tricky question: what if a student wants to sing but can’t dance comfortably on stage?

“The reality of Musical Theater is that singers must be able to move well.  It doesn’t mean they have to be the most amazing dancers. However, they must be able to perform choreography while singing,” Ramirez advised.  

“The talent pool in the professional world of theatre is incredible. To be able to make a career out of performing, you have to train yourself to be a triple threat. My advice for a young actor who fears dance is to take a leap of faith and try a dance class. The first step is always the toughest.  However, once you experience your first dance class, you will realize that it is not impossible. Everyone in this business goes through some self-doubt or worry but can overcome them by taking that leap and giving themselves the opportunity to experience the art of dance.”

Students might want to take that first leap with Ramirez holding the net, as he is a capable educator and has a kind heart for young people. “Our program is amazing and extremely well-rounded. We have students who aspire to become professional musicians, actors, directors, choreographers, technicians, lighting designers, sound designers, wardrobe, and crew.  Through our camp, they get to focus on the intricacies of each department. The experience that these students receive, regardless of their particular interest, is guaranteed to be hands-on experience with professionals currently in the field, which is truly the best way to learn.”

From 2022’s Broadway Camp, “Into the Woods” – Photo Provided

Ramirez ended our interview by promising the show would be inspirational. “Everyone, come to the show! They should support the arts in every capacity and the show with such an important message about inclusively. It is a labor of love for everyone involved, and it’s going to be spectacular. They will be able to witness this area’s incredible talent and enjoy some amazing singing, acting, and dancing!”

Ramirez noted that many of the former students return as interns to support the young learners and have continued their journey into careers in the arts after the camp.

“The Proctors Broadway Camp continues to inspire many students. Parents are constantly sharing their gratitude for the education we give their kids and the joy they experience through the process,” Ramirez noted.

This year’s “The Prom” production will be on the main stage at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady, July 28-July 29th. Tickets are on sale now at the Proctor’s website.

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