Today we’d like to introduce you to Breon Arzell.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Breon. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
What a journey and story to tell. I guess it I started when I was a creative little black boy in Detroit, watching music videos in my living room. I used to watch them, and immediately be able to mimic the choreography and sing the songs. Always up and about and performing. Whether for my family, my friends, or (a lot of times) myself. No one prompted me or asked me to do it. I just did. I guess I always knew that I was going to be a performer. Always involved in school shows and assemblies, and more often than not, the lead or the facilitator. Early in life I wanted to follow my mother and sister’s lead and go into medicine. Becoming a performer wasn’t a realistic career goal. Soon finding the professional youth company, Mosaic Youth Theater of Detroit, Rick Sperling (the founder & director) changed my life forever. There, I received professional theater training (while also excelling at Detroit’s #1 public high school, Renaissance), and began my journey as an artist. From there, I went on to Miami of Ohio University, to study Theater. While there I finally began my training as a dancer, and quickly began to develop into a choreographer, with the student run Vision Dance Company. After university I returned to Mosaic as an assistant to the CEO, education teaching artist and Assistant Director of the Acting Company. Although my passion for teaching grew, performing was still my main focus. And so, on a huge leap of faith, and a potential opportunity to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company in London, I packed up and moved to England. Overall a devastating experience, and huge failure, I learned a lot about myself and what I was willing to sacrifice for my art. In the 11th hour I landed an audition, and place, in an ACLE Theatrino (a T.I.E. company in Italy), and my life, once again was forever changed. I performed and taught all across Italy for 3 years and 2 summers, then Germany for 3 seasons, before returning home to the U.S. On an artistic rush from this experience, I didn’t want to stall my momentum, so in a matter of weeks, I packed my things up and moved to Chicago to further my career, and pursue my dream of acting full time. That was five years ago. While here, I have had the extreme pleasure of working with over 20 companies, from storefront to big equity houses, as an actor and as a choreographer; establishing some amazing partnerships and relationships; and developing my own brand and artistic style. So, the way I got here is quite the journey, but HOW I got here, is by never settling.
Has it been a smooth road?
A smooth road…Absolutely not. But if it was, I wouldn’t appreciate the journey, and what it has led me to. I’ve been homeless. I’ve had negative money. I’ve been a victim of identity theft. I’ve slept in public places. I’ve been led on, overlooked, underrated, omitted, and used. I’ve been told no over and over and over again. But hey, that’s the business, right? That’s what we signed up for. Yes, and. However, as a queer black performer, I am constantly pigeon-holed and boxed and told what is not for me. It is difficult trying to make your way into a business that already has limited opportunities designed specifically for you. And if you don’t have those directors, artistic directors, or leaders that are willing to challenge those things, or go against the flawed system, then you can find yourself stuck. Sometimes, through doubt and misguided steps, I have been my own obstacle. But in the end I have to believe that it is all for a reason, and a lesson is to be learned with every challenge that comes.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Freelance Actor/Choreographer/Director – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I specialize in challenging the norm and creating work that is deeply personal, subversive, joyous, and about human connections, emotions, and relationships. My choreography is definitely a fusion of various genres; jazz, modern, hip-hop, contemporary, lyrical, body percussion.
I pride myself on being able to realize a director’s vision, being a very collaborative partner, and bringing visions to life in the most organic, stylized, and specialized way.
Whenever I create, or act, I want to give a piece of myself over to it. This allows vulnerability and truth to anchor the work being done.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Best: I love the accessibility of Chicago. Even with its minor faults, it has to be one of the best public transit systems in the country. I work all over the city, and I can always get to wherever I need to go. Also, I’m a foodie, so this is a GREAT place to be.
Least: Cubs fans.
But more seriously… the false pretense that everything is sunshine and rainbows. We only acknowledge the “haves”, and ignore or dismiss the “have nots”. In the city is just mirroring what our country is doing, but I think this city, and our leaders, could incite change, if they really wanted to.
- Website: www.breonarzell.com
- Instagram: @breonarzell
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BreonArzell/
- Twitter: @breonarzell