For Brooke Taylor, dancing has always been a part of her life. “I have been dancing since I was three years old. Dancing shaped who I am today,” she explains.
Taylor grew up dancing at Legacy Dance Studio in Southfield. “When I was at Legacy, there was a split and I became a student dance teacher...My interest in dance shifted and grew. During my senior year of high school, I was the president of the African American Awareness Club, and this helped my artistry and gave my art a clearer focus.”
After high school, Taylor attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where she earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in dance with a minor in education for empowerment this past spring. While in college, Taylor’s love of theater and sense of advocacy and activism grew.
Following George Floyd’s murder in 2020, Taylor was inspired to organize a Drive-In for Justice protest in West Bloomfield after attending a drive-in church service. Since it was the early days of the pandemic before readily available treatments and vaccines, she wanted to make the protest safe for those most susceptible to COVID-19 – especially her 90-year-old grandmother. “It was important to me that she could attend. She was in the front row.”
At U-M, she was involved in creating a program within the School of Music, Theatre and Dance called Black Scholars in Dance. The group is comprised of a network of dancers who foster Black dance education and knowledge, create community, and serve as role models for young people in underserved communities who are interested in dance.
During her junior year at U-M, Taylor became involved in theater by co-choreographing a one-act musical, “Once on This Island.” She said, “This was my introduction to loving theater. It was a beautiful experience to work with an inspiring group of people.”
Several months later, Taylor combined singing and dancing while performing in “Mamma Mia” at The Encore Musical Theatre in Dexter.
“My mom always wanted me to sing but I didn’t take it seriously until then. She ended up being right. So, last year I started taking voice lessons to build my vocal skills.” Taylor’s wise mother is WXYZ-TV anchor and journalist, Carolyn Clifford.
This past summer, Taylor moved to New York to begin actively auditioning for Broadway and New York gigs. She auditioned for the new musical “Boop!” and was quickly offered a role and started rehearsals. Broadway-bound “Boop!” is a family-friendly musical comedy that celebrates Betty Boop, a sassy symbol of female empowerment who, for nearly a century, has been reminding the world, “You are capable of amazing things.”
Rehearsals for “Boop!” were held in New York but the musical’s opening is in Chicago at the CIBC Theatre, where the show runs from mid-November until December 24th. Of course, Taylor is hopeful that “Boop!” will be successful and transfer to Broadway in New York after its run in Chicago.
While she finds singing and dancing at the same time challenging, she said, “I love that everything happens for a reason and give the glory to God. ‘Boop!’ is a beautiful story about self-love. It is funny and for the whole family. It inspires me.”
For aspiring performers, Taylor offers this advice, “Your manners will take you further than your talent – and always lead with love. Art is about giving to others and making others feel good. While it can be exhausting, if you lead with love, you won’t deplete yourself.”
Story: Tracy Donohue
Photo: McArthur Stuckey