Hot Talent Spotlight: Remmie Bourgeois shares his experiences as a cast member of Hamilton, why you can’t take NO for an answer and the man who inspired him to pursue a career in dance
“Dance will take way more from you before it begins to give anything back. If you want to pursue it, be prepared to hear no a lot–but never give up.”
Remmie Bourgeois is no stranger to hard work and perseverance–he’s been thriving in the dance scene for over 20 years with roles in several theater productions, music videos, commercials, movies and more. His infectious smile and warm personality makes you feel like you’ve known each other for years. I sat down with Remmie to learn a little more about his life as a dancer and how it all began.
WOD: How did you get started in your dance career?
Remmie: Believe it or not, I didn’t start dancing until I was 13 years years old–taking hip hop classes at NewStyle Motherlode Dance Company in Oakland, CA. I immediately fell in love with the artistry and movement of dance and was hungry to learn more. I immersed myself in several different dance styles and genres throughout high school and college. After graduating from Hampton University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management, I moved to Los Angeles where I got my first big break: landing a role in Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular at Disneyland.
WOD: Did performing in Aladdin help steer your path to the stage?
Remmie: I guess you could say that! After Aladdin, I auditioned and was cast in quite a few resident theater productions: Damn Yankees, Tarzan, and Ragtime. Then I landed a role in a traveling production of Dream Girls –produced by McCoy Rigby Entertainment. This gig was so amazing because we got the opportunity to perform in Japan. I loved the people and culture there–they were so kind and were the best hosts imaginable. I came home wishing we could be more welcoming and hospitable to people coming to the U.S.
Remmie: Well, it was pretty amazing. I spent 3 ½ years with them–starting as a member of the original cast and I was fortunate enough to be a part of the closing cast as well. In addition to being a part of the ensemble, I also got to play the role of George Eacker at times. Working with Andy Blankenbuehler (the choreographer) was incredible. It’s no surprise that he’s been nominated for the Tony Award for Best Choreographer 5 times and has won 3 times!!
WOD: And we have to know: Did you get to meet Lin-Manuel Miranda?
Remmie: I did have the opportunity to meet Lin, and during the run in Chicago he came to visit a few times. It was a surreal and humbling experience. From all of his success and fame, it’s very easy to see him as this big star. The funny thing about hanging out with Lin, you realize he’s such a normal guy. He makes you feel as though you’re chatting with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and knows how to laugh at himself. He is so down to earth and such a humble man.
Meeting and chatting with Lin was a breath of fresh air. I remember when we were in rehearsals in NYC before the company went to Chicago. We had just finished our first run through of the show from beginning to end and of course, Lin was there watching. I assumed he would have had notes about how to make the show better, since he is the one who imagined it. Instead, when asked what his thoughts were, he simply said, “Thank you for the hard work that you guys have done to make what’s in my head come to life” He told us that the show was beautiful and was honored to have all these talented people working hard to make his vision become reality.
WOD: Tell us about your work outside of the theater. I know you’ve worked with some amazing people!
Remmie: I’ve performed in movies, commercials, music videos and some pop-up entertainment gigs. I’ve been seriously blessed to work with some amazing choreographers such as Rob Ashford, Chuck Maldonado, Akomon “AJ” Jones, Ashley Wallen, Leon Henderson, Dana Solimondo, and Linda Love Simmons.
You’re always learning whenever you get the opportunity to work with really talented people.
WOD: What sparked your interest in fitness?
Remmie: Professional dance is strenuous! Dancers have to learn how to condition their bodies to keep them as safe and healthy as possible for prolonged periods of time. I not only want to keep myself injury-free, but want to help others too. I know I can help both professional dancers and dance enthusiasts continue to do what they love and live longer, happier and healthier lives.
WOD: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Remmie: Dance will take way more from you before it begins to give anything back. If you want to pursue it, be prepared to hear NO a lot–but never give up. The quote “Anything worth having is worth working for” has been curated over time but its something that I’ve heard a lot over the years. It applies to both my personal and professional life. What it means to me is: never quit. If you truly want something, you’ll never give up no matter how hard it is or how long it takes. By the end of the journey, you’re only going to be better and stronger for having the perseverance to push though.
WOD: If you could dance with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be?
Remmie: Desmond Richardson. At 14 years old, I didn’t see any dancers who looked like me–the color of my skin or body type–I felt like an outsider even amongst other dancers. That changed when I saw a photo of Desmond in a dance magazine. I was shocked to see someone who looked like me and he was one of the most beautiful dancers I’d ever seen. I had to learn more about this amazing dancer so I did some research and found both movies he had danced in and videos of him dancing. I thought to myself “He looks like me!! If he can do it I can do it.” Desmond inspired me to put the work to become the dancer I am today.
WOD: What is your ultimate day off agenda?
Remmie: That’s a tough one because there’s so much that I want to do. If I had to be specific, I’d love to spend the day going to the beach, horseback riding, dancing either at a party or just socially, and hanging with my friends and family. I also love rollercoasters, playing pool, and archery!
WOD: What song pumps you up no matter what?
Remmie: The Greatest Show from the movie, The Greatest Showman. This song pumps me up because there’s such a great build to it and it embodies the essence of entertainment for me. It’s my go to song in the gym when I’m working out, warming up for dancing, or even just walking down the street. It always lifts my spirits and makes me want to move.
WOD: What is something you are scared of but you do it anyway?
Remmie: Singing in front of other people. It may sound strange with my background in musical theater, but I always get nervous and have butterflies before I have to sing–either in an audition or just to a small group of people. I get so nervous that sometimes I start to shake!
WOD: What inspires you?
Remmie: All forms of music and art inspire me. When I see something I think is amazing–whether it be music, dancing, or art–I usually end up listening or watching it over and over again. My thought process behind this is, “I have to dissect it and find out what makes it so great”. I’ll listen or watch something for days trying to find all the nuisances and details of it. Usually by the time I’m done, I have an idea for choreography, or I’m just super inspired to dance, sing, or act!