Tonawanda News — Next month Michael Peter Deeb will be dancing in a dream — his own.
The 26-year-old professional dancer recently acquired the role of Mark in the Tony award-winning Broadway musical, “A Chorus Line.” Rehearsals for the show begin in October, but Deeb’s adrenaline is already pumping with anticipation.
“I’m really excited to start, and it’s great that it’s my favorite show, and I’m going to get to perform it all across the country,” Deeb said.
In the meantime, the City of Tonawanda native, who currently lives and works in New York City, will be performing on a stage a little closer to home, at the University at Buffalo’s 4th Annual Back to Buffalo Dance Alumni All Star Concert on Sept. 22.
This is Deeb’s first time participating in the showcase, and he said that the opportunity to perform with the friends and faculty who helped make his Broadway dreams possible is an honor.
“It’s cool to be thought of by faculty as an alumnus with enough experience and credentials to (be a part of the show),” Deeb said. “I’m just really honored to be a part of it … and to give back to the college that I learned so much at.”
When funding for UB’s Center for the Art’s Dance Residency Outreach Program was cut, the Alumni All-Star Concert was created in 2009 in hopes of bringing the program back, said UB’s Director of Dance Jeanne Fornarola. The Dance Residency Outreach Program provides UB students the opportunity to take part in master classes with visiting internationally recognized professional dance companies and artists. This year’s dance residency is River North Dance Chicago, one of Chicago’s leading modern and jazz-based dance companies.
Since 1997, more than a dozen visiting dance companies and artists have allowed more than 20,000 students to participate in free dance performances and workshops at UB, Fornarola said.
Fornarola keeps in touch with former students through a Facebook alumni page and invites back students who are making moves in the world of theater and dance.
“Response from the alumni was amazing. They’ve all been so generous,” Fornarola said. “(The show) is great for the students because they can meet these alumni and find out how they got to where they are.”
Deeb graduated from the university in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree of fine arts in dance. Since then, his career has sashayed him all across the country. His first national Broadway tour, “Young Frankenstein,” which recently wrapped up production, has taken him to 41 different states.
“Lexington, Ky., was a fun city, because it was full of history. I got to see the house Mary Todd Lincoln grew up in, visit Transylvania University, (which was) appropriate because “Young Frankenstein” … takes place in Transylvania, and go on a bourbon tasting,” Deeb said when asked about some of his favorite places that he’s visited.
Though travel is definitely a perk of the job, for Deeb, home is where the heart is.
“Nothing compares to Buffalo, and I’m hoping that a tour in the future brings me to Shea’s (Performing Arts Center),” Deeb said.
Deeb has kept a productive itinerary in the city that never sleeps. The Broadway performer goes on four to five auditions a week and is constantly taking classes to perfect his technique.
“Michael was a wonderful student and dancer. His success is not a surprise. He’s really an academic as well as a dancer,” Fornarola said. “He was a great contributor to the department while he was at UB. He’s a hard worker and worked at his craft. He’s just a stellar student and person.”
If there’s anything that Deeb has learned in this business, it’s to dream big, remain humble and prepare to work, the greatest advice he could ever give students who are hopeful of making it big on Broadway.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. It doesn’t matter that you’re not from a big city like New York or Los Angeles, because that’s what I always thought,” Deeb said. “I didn’t realize that this career was even possible until I went to college and realized that a lot of people from Buffalo are successful in this field.”IF YOU GO • WHAT: Back to Buffalo 4: University at Buffalo Dance Alumni All-Star Concert • WHERE: Center for the Art's Drama Theatre, 103 Center for the Arts, Buffalo • WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22nd • COST: $26.50 for general public, $11.50 for students and children • MORE INFORMATION: Call 645-2787 or visit www.ubcfa.org.