"I can do that," thought Bryant Cash-Welch as an eight-year-old, as he watched dancer after dancer, including his sisters, at an audition. Then the director asked his mom, "Can the little boy dance?" Yes! And that was the start.
By the age of 16, Cash-Welch had been on stage with Kim Fields, Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Shanice Wilson in the Chip Fields production of In Command of the Children. He studied tap, jazz, ballet, modern dance and musical theater at the Hollywood High School of Performing Arts and later Los Angeles Valley College.
He then went on to perform in numerous shows including Ben Vereen's Seattle production of Get Your Boogie Down, and Minnie Madden's Minnie's Boys at the Shark Club in Las Vegas.
His career kicked into high gear when he was chosen as one of four male dancers for Whitney Houston's "I'm Your Baby Tonite World Tour."
Cash-Welch is also a choreographer. His credits include West Side Story (Harmony Players & Co, 1999), Babes in Toyland (Bay Area Educational Theater Co., 2001), Grease (Head Royce Academy, 2003), and Peter Pan (Harmony Players & Co., 1999).
Now in his forties, Cash-Welch exudes high energy. "I'll be 45 in December," he says, "but I feel 30." His schedule is jam-packed with performances, shows that he is choreographing, and classes he teaches at Dance 10.
How long have you been teaching at Dance 10? Ten years. But I've known Pamm Drake, the owner, for 25 years. She was one of the leads in the first show I did in San Francisco. We met there and became friends. When I came back to the Bay Area, I looked her up and I've been at Dance 10 since then.
What classes do you teach? I teach hip hop, jazz, musical theater and Boyz Club.
How old are your students? From age 4 through adult.
What performances are coming up for you with Dance 10? We're doing a holiday show at Kofman Auditorium on Dec. 12 and 13. We've been invited to a competition at Disneyland this summer so we'll be doing some of Thriller and Monster Mash.
I've been a Michael Jackson impersonator for about ten years now. I've performed all over—in Vegas, Tahoe, amusement parks, Fairyland. I take 20-25 kids and adults from Dance 10 and we do Thriller.
Are you going to be one of the Dancing Christmas Trees? No, tap is not my forte. I feel better with jazz, hip hop, theater.
What are some current projects you're working on outside of Dance 10? Starting in January, I'll be working at St. Joseph's High School choreographing Hairspray.
You perform, choreograph and teach. What do you like about each one? Teaching is my way of giving back. Sometimes I feel tired and don't feel like going. But then I get there and hear the music and see the kids. A lot of the kids I've taught over my 20 years of teaching have gone on to Broadway, to Beach Blanket Babylon in San Francisco. It's rewarding to me and a reflection on Dance 10 when a student calls and says they got a role.
What do I like about performing? Applause is addicting! People clapping and saying "I like you. You're fabulous.' I like putting a smile on people's faces.
Choreographing is one of the best ways of being alive and totally engaged in the world—to be able to create something from nothing. When I choreograph, I get that joy. You start out and there's no music, no costumes, no place to perform. You create all that.
What advice do you give young dancers? Enjoy what you do. Practice because practice makes you better. Share your talent—don't be shy with your talent—it's something given from up above. A lot of people I've taught don't dance any more but they still have the posture, the grace, the dignity.