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Need to Change

Broadway Star Kristin Chenoweth Emphasizes Individuality and Authenticity in Masterclass with MDT Students

Chenoweth offered positive feedback on MDT student performances

On November 4, BYU Music Dance Theatre (MDT) students were treated to a masterclass with Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth. Chenoweth’s masterclass was part of the ongoing BRAVO! Performing Arts series, where performance students have the opportunity to learn from experts in their field.

During the masterclass, Chenoweth emphasized the need for the students to be their authentic selves in the industry. “If I tell you my truth, my authentic truth, and you sing to me your authentic truth, nobody can get really mad,” she said.

MDT student Emma Joyner said that she appreciated the emphasis on individuality. “Sometimes as performers — when we’re all striving to become better in three mediums that are very similar — it’s hard to see yourself and the skills that you have as an individual as worthy or enough,” she said. “I was just reminded that there’s individuality in this work, and that’s what makes it beautiful.”

In addition to talking about individuality, Chenoweth added that as Christian artists in the performance industry, there is a need to be welcoming to those who don’t share the same beliefs. “If we don’t make room for where people are in their life, and how God created them, … we are going to be in a bubble by ourselves,” she told students.

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Photo by Alyssa Lyman

After a brief Q&A session, several students performed their prepared pieces for Chenoweth. When each student finished, Chenoweth gave them helpful feedback, focusing on the things they did well in their performances and complimenting them on their individual interpretations of the music and lyrics.
Cassidy Riggs, one of the students in the masterclass, said that Chenoweth’s positivity was encouraging. “I felt super proud of all my peers and seeing them succeed,” said Riggs. “[Seeing] just how proud [Chenoweth] was of them made me realize that I can do something like this as well.”

Alex Joyner, another student attending the masterclass, said that he was also encouraged by Chenoweth’s positive feedback.

“It was a great opportunity for our students to get constructive feedback from somebody who’s lived it … It’s just a refreshing way to view what we’re doing and feel like we’re being successful,” he said. “I really just enjoyed the moments after somebody would sing — how positive her feedback would be to them. … She really complimented the students, which I think helped their confidence.”

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Chenoweth commented on the quality of talent she saw in each of the students who performed for her. “I love the uniqueness of what I’m seeing today,” she said after one performance. She continued, “I love star quality, and I’ve seen it in each student so far.”

Riggs said that she felt empowered by Chenoweth’s mentoring.

“She gave [me] a lot of motivation and inspiration,” she said. “It’s cool to realize that if we’re genuine and passionate about what we do, we can go far with it.”

Emma Joyner added that she felt that Chenoweth’s personalized feedback helped to drive home the importance of individuality. “It’s beautiful that each person can be successful in a myriad of different ways,” she said. “There’s not just one path.”