When Danny Nguyen graduated from TDPS in 2010, he wasn’t sure where his path would lead him. Two years later, he’s on his way to Korea and Japan as part of the touring cast of Blast, a spectacular production merging marching bands, percussion and dance.
“It didn’t start out as glamorous,” says Nguyen. “We rehearsed in Bloomington, Indiana for four weeks, followed by two weeks of tech in Alma, Arkansas, in a high school. After that we opened in Nashville, which is when things started to really get fun.” Since then, Nguyen toured with the show throughout their national tour as one of about 35 performers, in a new town every few days.
“We travel every day, and usually get a day or so in each city to look around and practice before we start the production. It’s been a lot of fun,” he says. “We’re heading out to perform at the World Expo in Yeosu, Korea in May for about ten days of shows, then we come back for six days, and then we go back to Japan for three and a half months – we’re doing a show in every prefecture in the country.”
After graduation (and before his new jet-setting lifestyle), Danny danced in an expanded solo excerpt from Pretty Things (called Pretty Thing), which choreographer Katie Faulkner had initially presented as part of Berkeley Dance Project. He then went on to a role in Joe Goode’s Traveling Light and another performance of Pretty Thing at the WestWave Dance Festival in the fall of 2010. “I did a lot of work through people I knew at TDPS,” Danny says. “Who you know and who you meet in school really do have an effect on your career.”
As testimony to that adage, “Blast” was offered to Danny through another acquaintance. “I used to be in the marching band in high school,” he explains. “From there I started doing the color guard, and I stayed with that through university through a group in San Jose. One of the people I rehearsed with was part of Blast, and suggested I send in an audition tape. From there it’s history.”
When asked what he’s most looking forward to on tour, Danny grins. “I hear that the casts of this show are treated like rock stars when they go to Japan. At the end of each show, we go out to the lobby and play while the audience leaves. In the US, many of the audience would come shake our hand. In Japan, the audiences will bring gifts and pick a favorite performer to follow… past tours had to be stanchioned off to keep the audiences off them.”
And does Danny miss anything about his time at UC? “I really miss being able to take a dance class three or five days a week,” he responds. “Sometimes on the road I’ll find a way to get in a class or two, but having the ability to really practice and develop as a dancer is tough. Even after graduation, though there was a long time between the fall I was dancing and the fall I was cast in this show, I had to work, and that work would really get in the way of practicing what I loved. Don’t take the long days of dance class for granted – you’ll miss them!”