2015-16 Performance Series Choreographer: Braeden Barnes


Courtesy of LEVELdance. Photo by Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth of Chicago Dance Supply

Dance Canvas: When did you start choreographing?

Braeden: Actually, it happened by surprise when I was  nineteen years old.  A teacher of mine asked me to start a dance piece on a ballet school’s senior students for a festival. She came back after a few days of absence to find that I picked the music, finished the work, and was having the students try on costumes. I ran with the opportunity and fell in love with choreography right away.

Dance Canvas: How did you find your own unique voice and movement?

Braeden: I have never yet fully refined my unique voice. The more I create and set work, the more I investigate different movement. I like to keep my work unfinished and open for change.  I take advantage of “trial and error.”


Dance Canvas: Did you receive any training in choreography? Do you think choreography education is necessary for a choreographer?

Braeden: As a dancer, I have been very observant in the studio with many different choreographers setting their work. I have learned a lot from them and taken what I feel is necessary in creating a work—but in my own way.  I think education for a choreographer would be an asset, and would welcome the opportunity to learn from it in the future.  I do feel, though, that experience is vital.  

Dance Canvas: What are the biggest challenges you have encountered being/becoming a choreographer?

Braeden: Money is a never-ending issue in this field, and I feel that to showcase our work, finding the funds is one of the biggest challenges.

Dance Canvas: How do you go about funding your choreography?

Braeden: I try to meet people who have shown interest in my work and ask for donations to support my latest projects. I like them to feel like they are a part of the organization and to work together to bring local art to different audiences. 

Dance Canvas: What are the top 3 things that you feel have contributed to your success both practically and/or personally as a choreographer?

Braeden: Hard work; support from family, friends, and mentors; and confidence in running with an idea not knowing the outcome.

Dance Canvas: How do you find venues and opportunities to present your work?

Braeden: I am very involved with the dance world online in which I find opportunities. Also “word of mouth” and having connections by networking is very important in finding opportunities.

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Dance Canvas: What do you find is the best way to promote yourself as a choreographer?

Braeden: We live in a day and age in which most of our lives is on the internet. I like to take advantage of Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube to not only promote my work, but to network with other choreographers.

Dance Canvas: What are some tips and advice you would give to those who are wanting to break into the choreography industry?

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Braeden: Seize every opportunity that comes your way. One door always leads to the next one.

Dance Canvas: What are the rewards of being a choreographer?

Braeden: Sharing the art the dancers and I create with an audience.

Dance Canvas: What do you love most about your job?

Braeden: I love the rewards of creating. It’s not everyday that you can walk into a studio and make art out of nothing—I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

About Braeden


Photo by Katie Graves

Braeden Barnes, a native from Chicago, Illinois, received his training under the direction of Watmora Casey, the founder and director of Faubourg Ballet; Sherry Moray, founder and director of Academy of Dance Arts; San Francisco Ballet School; and Houston Ballet school. Braeden was accepted into the Joffrey Ballet training program under the directors Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik. During his time there, he did works by Francisco Avina, Ronn Stewart, Amy Hall, and Diana Princeton. Braeden danced professionally in major cities such as Milwaukee, Portland, Montreal, Palm Springs, and Las Vegas. Among his travels, he has worked with choreographers such as Jose Navas, Matthew Neenan, Sarah Slipper, Ron De Jesus, and Gerald Charles. In 2012, Braeden joined Nevada Ballet Theatre (NBT) performing in many lead roles in The Nutcracker (Nephew/Prince), Balanchine’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (Puck), and James Canfield’s Romeo and Juliet (Mercutio) and worked with many choreographers such as Paul Vasterling, James Canfield, and Andre Kastan during his stay there. Braeden, an emerging choreographer, has had the opportunity to choreograph not only in Chicago, but also in Las Vegas. Braeden’s work has been featured in Chicago benefits, and also competitive competitions. Braeden choreographed works for NBT that have been featured in their Studio Series yearly program. Chosen among many choreographers, Braeden was selected to choreograph for collaborations with NBT and Cirque Du Soliel, which has been featured on the Mystere stage in Las Vegas.


We loved hearing Braeden’s insight, advice, and passion for choreography. Trust us when we say, you do not want to miss his stunning work coming to the Dance Canvas stage January 22nd and 23rd at the Rialto Center for the Arts. You can follow Braeden on his Instagram: B_64

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