We had the opportunity to chat with Brittany Byrnes for Bradshaw Dance and Cheer, We talk to Brittany about the program and their recent trip to the 2015 Dance Worlds in Orlando Florida.
Stats Name: Brittany
Team: Bradshaw Elite
Gym/Club/Company: Bradshaw Dance and Cheer
Years Cheerleading: 26 (years dancing for me)
|Favourite Jump:||Turning Toe Touch|
|Favourite Tumble Pass:||–|
|Favourite American Team:||Spirit of Texas – Purple Royalty & PACE Elite (dance)|
|Favourite Australian Team:||Bradshaw Royals & Starlets Orion|
|Favourite International Team:||Bangkok University|
Tell us a little bit about the history of Bradshaw, and when was it first established?
Bradshaw is one of the longest running dance studios in the country and was established over 40 years ago. My mum Coralie Bradshaw first opened the school when she was quite young, after going through lots of dance training and experience growing up including full time ballet training. Before opening the school she was actually working professionally in musical theatre so Bradshaw was known in the early days for giving strong theatre training, with Broadway jazz and musical theatre being our strength. Mum has always evolved with the times and the studio has continually developed and progressed, so while jazz training will always be our strength and foundation, we now have very strong hip hop, pom and cheer programs too, and are heavily involved with the All Star industry.
What has been some of the most memorable moments for your program?
Over 40 years there have been many! Students from each generation will have their own memorable moments, but for me, its all about Worlds. As we have competed at Worlds 4 times over the last 5 years, the current senior team has made some unforgettable memories together, but we were actually the first (and are still the only) Australian team to win a medal at the ICU World Championship for dance. Hearing “Team Australia” called to stand on the podium next to the insane Team USA and Team Japan was a moment will stay with all of us forever.
What do you love most about dancing?
For me, I love what dancing does for you as a person. It is a beautiful art form and we are so lucky to have dance as a form of expression and exercise, however seeing students gain confidence, push their bodies, make friends, and use dance to help them grow as people is the best part. It teaches you the value of working as a team, and that you are capable of anything: whether you are on the floor, in a classroom or out in the real world.
Since you are a dance school, when did you introduce cheer to your program and how has it changed Bradshaw since then?
Bradshaw have only been involved with cheer for a few years so we are very proud of the success our cheer program has had in that time! We looked into All Star competition around 5 years ago after a long and successful career on the eisteddfod scene. We were looking for a new and different challenge for our dancers. When we looked into it and discovered cheer we knew it was something we wanted to offer our athletes. My sister Gezelle was already our tumbling coach as she came from a gymnastic background so she really started our cheer program from the ground up, by getting herself educated and learning all she could about the sport. We are so lucky that she turned out to be a talented cheer coach because now all our students love cheer!
Cheer has affected Bradshaw in a very positive way. It has improved our athletes’ strength and fitness and has helped them become more athletic dancers. More importantly though, I think cheer is wonderful in the way it encourages teamwork and trust between teammates. I have seen all our students benefit so much from this. The family atmosphere of our studio is stronger than ever and the bond our athletes all share since learning to stunt together has made them a very tight unit. I absolutely love what cheer has done for the community and family vibe of Bradshaw and I am so glad to have it as part of our program.
What have you learnt about yourself as a coach?
I don’t coach cheer, but All Star dance has pushed me so much further than I ever thought I could go! Worlds really showed me the potential our dancers and our choreography could reach and made me passionate about helping our dancers get there. As a coach you are helping athletes improve but you also need to grow and push yourself creatively. Being able to constantly improve, always come up with something creative and always be able to get the best out of the kids is a skill I have developed in All Star dance at Bradshaw and am very grateful for!
You have taken several teams to Worlds, tell us about them.
Yes, we have now been to Worlds 4 times! Over all our trips the core dancers on our team has actually remained the same so those who have been with us 4 times have been through so much experience together, they now train and perform as one.
The main reason we are so proud of them is that our team trains in all three styles and is one of the only teams (in Aus and in the world!) to compete with the same athletes in all three divisions: Jazz, Pom, and Hip Hop. It is a lot of work getting three styles to Worlds level and three routines polished each year, and due to the incredible standard of competition, many programs chose to focus on one routine. We are one of the only programs in the World to not only consistently make top 10 in all three categories, but we also have medals in all three! As coaches we are so proud of our super-team! This year we actually brought home our 8th Worlds medal!
These dancers are insanely hard working and are dedicated to dance and to each other. It makes me so happy to know that being a Worlds Medalists is something that each dancer can now carry with them for the rest of their lives.
You also went to Worlds this year, what was some of your most memorable experiences?
This year our most memorable moment was at ICU when our Pom double Frances and Emily won a Bronze Medal. It was an absolutely ecstatic moment with lots of tears!
The most memorable moments for our team are always those surreal moments performing on the Worlds stage. There is absolutely nothing like it and although winning medals has been great, the memories of finally being out there with your second family, feeling all the adrenalin and nailing it are the moments that really stay with you.
We saw some of your athletes visited PACE All Stars in California before Worlds, tell us about that.
Yes! We have been very lucky over the last 5 years to form a friendship with the coaches and dancers on PACE. The wonderful Jeff Harvey visited Bradshaw when he was in Sydney last year for WCCD and invited us to visit his studio for a day of training before Worlds!
PACE are over TWENTY time World Champions and some of their current members have 13 Worlds titles, so they are absolute royalty, and for our dancers there is no greater inspiration. We have looked up to PACE for many years and constantly aspire to be like them. To meet them all and to find what humble, generous people they all are was an amazing experience and it set a great example for our dancers. We had a day training and dancing with them in their studio (which was like being in heaven!) and then a pizza party and gift exchange. They really are lovely people, even sitting in the supporters area when we performed and cheering us on! That sportsmanship meant so much to us and it was nice to see the most successful dancers in the world are just as worthy of admiration off the stage as they are on it.
Most athletes never understand the emotional rollercoaster a coach goes through when watching their athletes compete, what does it feel like when its at Worlds and how do you keep your cool?
Haha I actually don’t keep my cool at all! It’s such an emotional and intense experience being at Worlds, so its not unusual for me to cry multiple times! (Happy tears mostly!) Having been both a dancer and coach at Worlds I think its harder emotionally to be a coach. You go through so much with the team in the studio but once they hit the Worlds stage you just have to hold your breath and watch. Its very surreal, and heightened. Seeing one tiny mistake is devastating, and seeing something hit is just amazing! We are so tight with our athletes and have a great relationship so it can be very emotional thinking of how far an individual has come to get to that point. Being a Worlds coach is the most rewarding experience in the World.
What were some of the challenges you faced for your Worlds Team this year and how did you overcome them?
Our biggest challenge each time is definitely raising the funds! It is expensive to travel to Worlds, particularly for the athletes who have now done it multiple times with us. We manage it by lots of fundraising, running BBQs and events at the studio, but being a small studio we only have a small support network and it can be very hard to keep fundraising within the same circle year after year. We are lucky to have some parents who do a great job at all our fundraisers, and the athletes individually work hard to come up with the money they need to get there.
What’s the best advice you were given that you have passed on to other athletes?
Mum (Coralie) always taught us that the important thing is the performance, not the result. If you dance your absolute best and do a great job then the coaches will be happy regardless of where the team ranks. In the same way, when we win or get a high result we are still able to see where we need to improve. No matter how successful you are you can always be better. It’s so important to always train and push yourself to your limits, even after winning a title we will always return to the studio to work harder. It is important to us that our athletes have a strong sense of self-belief and know they are capable – we always take the floor with confidence. However you need to be humble at the same time and never let your success become an excuse for being lazy. Mum is always pushing our dancers and pushing my sister and I as choreographers to be better and I’m grateful for that because I think that’s why Bradshaw will always continue to improve.
The ACC team would like to thank Brittany for taking the time to interview with us, we’d like to wish her and Bradshaw all the best this season.