Bruce Brown has a world of performing experience, ranging from competitive gymnastics to the stage at the Metropolitan Opera. Brown’s story began in North Platte, Nebraska, where he was a rambunctious youth. He began doing gymnastics at a young age and went to Omaha to train for the national and world level. At the age of sixteen, he broke his back while doing gymnastics; at the age of eighteen, he was in a motorcycle accident that sidelined his gymnastics career again. Brown’s journey then took him to Las Vegas.
“I got a job as an acrobat and tumbler in a show at the Tropicana Casino,” said Brown. “I just continued to meet a lot of interesting people and things just kept picking up.” It was in Las Vegas that Brown met tap dancing legend Maceo Anderson. Brown learned “outlaw tap” from him. The art form focuses more on the musicality of tap. Brown then moved back to Omaha, where he became a junior national coach for the United States Gymnastics team in 1980 and 1981. Looking for new opportunities to perform, Brown moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where he auditioned for Gypsy. He was cast as Tesla. Headlining that production was Yvonne De Carlo, who is better known to America as Lily Munster.
Brown then moved to New York City with $75.00 in his pocket. He would be cast in productions of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and other shows where he was given the opportunity to be assistant choreographer. The next step was to Los Angeles to work with the Orange County Repatory Theatre. The exposure in L.A. would give Brown relationships that took him back to New York where he began working with cast members in residence at the Metropolitan Opera. Given his experience in training gymnasts and as a tumbler and acrobat himself, he was sought to aid in choreographing numerous operas at The Met. This led him to the opportunity to choreograph and direct a national tour of West Side Story.
At this time Brown decided to slow down. “I moved to Muscatine to be with my brother James. That way I could just hang out and see what my next step would be.” At this time Brown got into trap shooting, but dance and coaching were always his passions. He purchased the old Skateland building at 701 Orange Street and began renovating it. He made it into The Orange Street Theater and opened his studio, Class by Bruce Brown.
After taking a brief hiatus due to knee and hip surgeries, Brown is re-opening his studio doors. Brown is passionate about training young dancers in the fundamentals of musical theatre and dance, tap, and tumbling. “I have had so much success with my students,” Brown says. “I truly love them. I train them like young professionals and they get better because of it. Some of my students will be teaching with me, so that is exciting.” One of Brown’s recent success stories is Ben Rivera, who is currently touring as a professional dancer.
Brown will be holding an open house on August 13 and 14 for anyone interested in his studio. He will be teaching dancers of all ages. Call 563-262-8791 if interested.