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Department Of Theatre And Media Arts

From BYU to Broadway: One Music Dance Theatre Student Tells His Story

After Being Selected to Participate in an Exclusive Theatre Workshop, Johnathan Tanner Learned What It Takes to Make it on Broadway

I found my passion for performing early in life when I won a national dance competition at age five with a tap piece I choreographed myself. From that point on, I was driven. I learned to sing and play both piano and violin, but dance was where I really excelled. I loved performing on studio and school teams throughout junior high and high school, and I became skilled in a variety of dance genres. At BYU, I was accepted into the Music Dance Theatre (MDT) major as a freshman. The musical theatre program provided me the opportunity to do the things I loved: dancing, singing and acting.

My goal had always been to perform on Broadway and I felt I was one step closer. That same year, I auditioned for and was invited to join BYU’s Young Ambassadors, which allowed me to associate with other talented students and work with accomplished faculty. Performing with my sister in the group made the experience extra special.

Johnathan Tanner (above) Is the Third BYU Student to Participate in Prestigious New York City (NYC ) LINK Program
Photo by Carol Tanner

Now in my senior year, I learned last fall I had been nominated and accepted into the LINK Program, a prestigious, invitation-only musical theater workshop on the East Coast. The selection process involved a rigorous audition process, with only 15 individuals from across the United States being selected for one of three categories: Singer/Dancer, Singer/Actor, and TV/Film Acting. Since the program’s inception, only two BYU students have ever been selected. I was the third. I was thrilled knowing that I would get to associate with the best college-student performers from across the country as a contestant in the Singer/Dancer category. I knew this experience would be a huge jump start for my career.

The program involved two weeks of intense workshops at the Norwalk Conservatory in Connecticut, followed by meeting, performing and auditioning for casting directors, talent agents and current Broadway choreographers and talent. We also performed a showcase in New York City for other luminaries in the entertainment industry.

Johnathan Tanner (Front Row, Second in on the Right) with the Singer/Dancer Cohort in this Year’s LINK Program
Photo by Carol Tanner

Through this experience, I learned several key lessons. First, it is important to know what makes you unique. I was asked what makes me who I am many times. In a situation where you are being evaluated for what makes you unique and what you have to offer, you need to know how to best represent yourself, whether it’s for a casting director, associate director or talent agent.

Second, I learned that the professional world of musical theater is a conglomeration of all your training – voice lessons, dance classes, acting classes and performing opportunities. For me, I felt like all my hard work was finally paying off.

Third, I learned that every industry professional has their own personality and objective. The most important thing is to represent yourself honestly and skillfully. Know what you have to offer and put it all out there.

Two weeks after returning from the LINK program, I signed with a talent agency in New York City. I am honored to represent BYU and am excited to move to New York in the fall to continue pursuing my professional goals.

Johnathan Tanner, Music Dance Theater Major at BYU, in Times Square, NYC
Photo by Carol Tanner