Trust and listen to your heart. Many people have come into my life over the course of my career, offering the “solution” for me to reach one goal or another. Ultimately, though, I have consistently found that I knew what I needed to do all along. Each of us has that special unique magic that no one else has. It’s just about finding it, holding onto it and trusting it.
As part of my series about the “Social Impact Heroes”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joseph Corella.
Joseph Corella is a choreographer, Broadway performer, and fitness guru, but at his core, Joseph is a teacher. Using his dance, theatre and fitness background, Joseph has traveled the globe, spreading his love and understanding of the importance of movement to such places as Japan, France, England, and Canada, as well as dozens of cities across the United States. He continues to build his dance community through his 567BROADWAY! online studio, DVD, and YouTube videos.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share with us the “backstory” that led you to this career path?
There’s so much to say about this but I think I can sum everything up by saying my love for dance and the arts is what brought me to this career path. I started dancing at the age of 7, and through my career I have consistently experienced the mental and physical health benefits of dance. It is an activity that consistently brings me unmatched joy and keeps me in tip top shape. That personal experience is really the root of why I created my dance fitness program 567BROADWAY! This workout combines everything I love and everything I have learned as a dancer, Broadway performer, fitness instructor, and choreographer. It also is grounded in my belief that your workout should be joyful and entertaining. I believe every single one us deserves that, not just professional dancers. 567BROADWAY! is designed to leave you shining bright like the Broadway Star that you are!
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career? What was the lesson or take away that you took out of that story?
Oh I have so many stories! The most interesting and memorable story for me was my Broadway debut in All Shook Up. I had just moved to NYC, and I was going to auditions constantly. To keep myself afloat, I was working the front desk of the Ritz-Carlton Spa and in the middle of a shift one day, I got a call from my agent that a Broadway show wanted me to come in to audition for an immediate replacement. The next day, I went to Ripley Grier (a well-known audition studio) for the audition. The room was filled with dancers, and they put us through multiple combinations, whittling it down to the final 4. The casting director offered each of us tickets to see the show that night before our final callback which would be the next day. This is not a normal practice when auditioning for a Broadway show. Seeing the show, which I think was meant to provide us with context for our audition, just made the stakes that much more intense.
The next day, I returned to Ripley Grier to sing as the final element of my audition, and this was where things became even more odd. After we sang, they asked us to wait outside the room and one by one, they called us in, each guy in front of me coming out saying he didn’t get it. My heart started pounding with excitement because I was the last guy in line. When the person in line ahead of me came out of the room, he didn’t tell me that he didn’t get the job, he instead congratulated me. I have such a clear memory of standing in the hallway with that moment, dumbfounded and wondering if this guy was right.
The creative team then called me in and told me I got the job. I was going to make my debut on Broadway. I couldn’t believe that my dream was finally coming true! The casting director then put me in a taxi to the Palace Theatre, where I immediately started my costume fittings and then directly went into rehearsals. I had 6 days to learn the show.
The whole experience was so exciting and completely terrifying and I wouldn’t change a thing. I learned so much from this time in my life. The main thing I learned was to face my fears and do the best I can. The journey to the dream isn’t always easy but it’s so worth it in the end. It’s something I try to continue reminding myself about as I listen to my heart and follow new dreams in my life.
What would you advise a young person who wants to emulate your success?
The best thing I could tell any young artist is to always follow your heart. If you listen closely, you will know which direction to go in and what to do. Also, be patient with the journey and try to go with the flow. This is certainly easier said than done, but I have found over and over again that it’s the truth.
Is there a person that made a profound impact on your life? Can you share a story?
I’ve had so many incredible people come into my life that have made an impact. Two mentors that significantly shaped who I am as an artist were Mr. Hall & Mr. Bachtell, my Junior High Theatre teachers. Their belief in me and their support laid the foundation that allowed me to get to where I am today.
How are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting causes you are working on right now?
Acknowledging the gift my teachers have given me throughout my life, I strive to be the best teacher I can for others. 567BROADWAY! is much more for me than dancing it out to your favorite Broadway songs. It’s about creating community and providing people with a daily dose of light and joy, especially during these unprecedented times. I often say that dance & the arts saved my life, and it’s a mission of mine to share that message with as many people as I can.
Can you share with us the story behind why you chose to take up this particular cause?
I knew from a young age that I was gay and growing up was not an easy journey for me. Dance and musicals really are what pulled me through. I truly feel that I have been dancing through life since I was a kid. Dancing helped me escape, helped me to take care of my body and mind, and most importantly it helped me to understand who I was even when I couldn’t yet truly understand myself. The same is true for my connection to musical theater. It was the power of music that helped me through, and it still does today. Again, this is why I am passionate about what I do, and why I strive to share this message with the world through 567BROADWAY!
Can you share with us a story about a person who was impacted by your cause?
567BROADWAY! really seems to help people when they are feeling depressed. Many people have told me that coming to class on a day when they had been feeling really down turned things around for them. I want to make sure I protect the privacy of my students, so I’m going to try to tell one woman’s story, but keep it as anonymized as possible. I will never forget this night. There is a woman who takes my class, who came up to me after her first class and told me that she had recently suffered a loss of a close relative. She told me that during class that night was the first time since that person’s passing that she had felt alive again. Knowing that I had provided her a space where she could experience some relief and forget about everything else for an hour meant everything to me. She kept coming back.
Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?
The three things that we can all do to support this effort are (1) show up, (2) be open to experiencing joy, and (3) dance. That’s really all there is to it. If people find a space where they can feel safe and open up to experiencing movement, then the message spreads itself.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.
This is an interesting question and honestly only one very important thing comes to mind: trust and listen to your heart. Many people have come into my life over the course of my career, offering the “solution” for me to reach one goal or another. Ultimately, though, I have consistently found that I knew what I needed to do all along. Each of us has that special unique magic that no one else has. It’s just about finding it, holding onto it and trusting it.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
My dream is to get the whole world singing and dancing together, and to make it a regular occurrence. Dance and song translate across languages, breaking down barriers between people. The shared experience of working on a piece of choreography also unites people. I know some may think that I am being naive, but I truly believe that the unifying power of the arts is something we need to be exploring vigorously in a world that these days is growing increasingly divided.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you explain how that was relevant in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is an oldie, but a goodie: “Follow your heart.” My heart has consistently guided me through tough situations, even when I have had no idea in mind what the proper path was. Whenever there has been a question of a large life decision — whether to move to a new city, whether to take that new job, whether that relationship was right one — it has always been my heart that has ultimately answered those questions for me.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
If I could have a private breakfast with anyone, it would be Richard Simmons. His workout videos were a game changer in the industry and he changed many lives throughout his decades of teaching. I would love to opportunity to sit with him and chat about his journey.
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was so inspiring, and we wish you continued success!