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Life and Work with Josie Bray

Today we’d like to introduce you to Josie Bray.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.

I moved here in 1997 from rural Maine to study dance, theatre, and education at Emerson College. I fell in love with the environment at Emerson and was fortunate enough to have amazing mentors and teachers there who encouraged me to make my own work and to develop my voice as an artist and as a teacher. I stayed in Boston for several years after college, continuing to train as a dancer, working at local arts organizations, and teaching dance and theatre while I co-ran a small theatre company and created and produced concert dance. A super-nerd about the body, I also became obsessed with power yoga and then eventually found myself with an injury which landed me in physical therapy. Then, to an excellent Pilates instructor who really helped me in my rehab process.

In 2007, my incredible husband, Jack, convinced me that we should move to New York City so that I could try my hand at working in professional theatre there. I wanted my day job to be something that was flexible for when I had theatre gigs, and since I had so much success with pilates and had so much yoga training, I decided to become a pilates and yoga instructor. I trained with some incredible teachers in Manhattan and Brooklyn while simultaneously pursuing theatre projects and movement theatre. I was fortunate enough to work as a director and choreographer on several off Broadway projects, and then as assistant to the director on a Broadway project in 2009, the revival of Ragtime.

In 2010, I had my child, and my former collaborator from the theatre company I ran in Boston and I decided to form a new company, this time with the goal of creating and producing new projects for Broadway. In 2011 my husband and I decided to move back to Boston; New York was incredibly difficult with a child, my sister had just passed away, I was exhausted from being a new mom, and we missed our friends and family and support systems.

I continued to work on my new Broadway company with my creative partner, John Ambrosino, and our 3rd partner, Mark Woods, in New York City while I lived here in Boston. In Boston, I continued to teach movement at pilates and yoga studios and I began to teach movement and physical theatre for actors at my Emerson College.

My Broadway company, U Rock Theatricals, has been now actively creating Trevor, a new musical intended for Broadway, for the past six years. I still teach at Emerson part time and study various movement modalities to facilitate dance, theatre, and healing. I work privately as a movement coach and am the only certified Franklin Method ® Educator teaching regularly in Boston and Cambridge.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?

I’m not sure there is such a thing as a smooth road.

Being a working artist is challenging no matter what — you are constantly juggling different projects and schedules, different ways of training and multiple income streams. In my 20s, I think a lot of my struggles came from insecurity and feeling an underlying anxiety of not being able to make it. There was a constant fear of not having enough money and not having enough work. You build resiliency to those feelings over time as you try things and sometimes succeed and sometimes fail.

In my 30s, many of my struggles have come from mental health. My little sister died of a very rare form of cancer when I was 30, and I was in deep mourning for a very long time. When I had my child, I struggled with post-partum depression and isolation, something that is very common for new parents. Around age 35, I realized that I was having trauma symptoms from a sexual trauma, and some other events, that happened to me when I was a young child. I have spent most of my late 30s finding ways to heal and become more whole, even as I work on pretty ambitious professional projects.

My advice to young women just starting out is that you don’t have to do it all at once. Learning early in your life how to take care of yourself, how to slow down, and how to listen with intention will be of huge benefit to anything you want to do professionally. Make friends and not enemies. Other women (and men, and people of all genders) are your allies, not your competition. I’ve found it incredibly helpful to create colleagues of all ages– I have colleagues and friends in their 70s and in their 20s. Being a generous person, being genuinely curious about people and their work will only help you on your path. We don’t do it alone.

Be discerning, but not judgmental.

Please tell us about your teaching.  

I work as a movement coach to actors, dancers, athletes, and other movement professionals (yoga/pilates teachers and physical therapists). My clients tend to be people who are super nerdy about bodies, about their performance, and about their craft. I’m proud to be sharing the Franklin Method ® as a way of improving students’ alignment, awareness of their bodies and as a way to creatively engage with artistic material. I’m most proud of the functional, anatomical perspective I bring to my teaching, as well as my ability to adjust my sessions to the particular needs of that artist or client.

Please tell us about Trevor the Musical.

Trevor the Musical is based on the short film of the same name which went on to inspire The Trevor Project, the nation’s only suicide and crisis intervention hotline for LGBT and questioning youth. It is the story of a young boy who is coming to terms with his sexuality, and overcoming adversity from others as well as his own thoughts of suicide. Trevor the Musical opened at the Writers Theatre in Chicago last summer to rave reviews.  It broke all previous sales records for the theatre.

I’m so proud of the team I’ve been working with on Trevor the Musical and the beautiful show we’ve created together.  The piece makes audiences laugh, cry, and root for young Trevor, and the reason for that is that our team of creatives and producers is smart, thoughtful, and loves to work together. The entire team is passionately devoted to telling this story and to its incredible effect on young people. Collaborating with a group of people so dedicated to this project has been the most valuable experience of my professional creative life.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve benefited from using?
Podcasts:
Marie Forleo’s Podcast
The Accidental Creative
NPR’s Planet Money
On Being with Krista Tippet
The Sexually Liberated Woman Podcast

Books:
Now Discover Your Strengths: Buckingham/Clifton
Turning Pro: Pressfield
Getting to Yes: Fisher/Ury
The Fire Starter Sessions: Danielle LaPorte
Big Magic: Elizabeth Gilbert
The Artist’s Way: Julia Cameron
All About Love: bell hooks
The Gifts of Imperfection: Brene Brown
The Body Keeps the Score: Bessel Van der Kolk
Waking the Tiger: Peter Levine

Blogs:
The Franklin Method (R)
Marie TV
Danielle LaPorte
Brene Brown

Apps:
Insight Timer (Meditation)
Beyond Pod (podcasts)
ParkBoston
I’m a new convert to Evernote for organizing all the things.

Pricing:

  • My private movement coaching session are $85/hour

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Writers Theatre in Glencoe, IL, Producing Partners: John Ambrosino and Mark Woods, Justine Johnson Photography

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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