Tony Selznick, scion of the legendary Hollywood Selznick family, has been in the business of dance and choreography for more than 20 years. Mr.Selznick was generous enough to take the time to tell us about how he got started in dance and how he was able to take things to the next level. He also shares vital advice for dancers to be able to have a successful career. One of our best interviews to date. If dance was an open book test, this would definitely be one of the pages you would use.
Dance Mogul Magazine Exclusive…
Dance Mogul: I know you were shy at first when it came to dance, but what sparked you to want to continue and eventually develop a passion for it?
Tony Selznick: My teacher Russell Clark inspired me to continue. He saw a talent in me I guess and helped me find it inside. I wasn’t a natural dancer. I had to learn which is why I think I was good. Some people are just natural like Russell Clark and my 11-year-old daughter Scarlet Selznick.
Dance Mogul: Today it seems to be a lost art for dancers to take classes and keep brushing up on fundamentals to continue to be innovative. How many classes would you take when you were dancing and what was the work ethic like of a dancer during the early stages of your career?
Tony Selznick: Russell’s teacher Molly once asked how many classes I took and I said 5, she said “per day” and I said, “per week”. She said someone who is serious about getting better would take several a day. Which is probably why I was never really THAT good.
Dance Mogul: What was it like to work with the legendary Gene Kelly and do you feel we need to honor legacies like his, Fred Astaire, The Nicholas Brothers, etc more like a dance community?
Tony Selznick: It was amazing and even more it was amazing watching Kenny Ortega get mentored by him and NO we don’t honor these legends which is why at MSA we have seminars for our clients on this subject. Julie McDonald held a seminar with Barrie Chase. So Google her since I am sure no one will know her BUT she is a legend!
Dance Mogul: Can you give young dancers a glimpse into what it’s like to work on a TV show in front of the camera and behind the scenes?
Tony Selznick: Hmmm yes. Long hours. You become family so you quickly learn that the dancers that keep working are because people LIKE to have them around = NO bad attitudes or you won’t come back. People don’t forget.
Dance Mogul: How did the Star Search opportunity come about and was that your first opportunity to start giving back to the culture?
Tony Selznick: YES! Sam Riddle called Russell and he recommended me. This is what introduced me to dance competitions and was the seed of inspiration for www.danceamatic.com. This is my passion project.
Dance Mogul: What has allowed you to stay selfless in the pursuit to keep creating opportunities for dancers?
Tony Selznick: I struggle with this every day. I am not selfless and it bothers me. My teacher told me my power was to help people and I don’t need to be front center to do that. He made me realize where my power really is. As an LEO I struggle with wanting to be front center, but I know now that my real value is in helping people achieve their dreams. Now I just need to keep working on ways to share. Not to share for no reason, but to really contribute. We all have so many agenda’s and real sharing is not that. I’m working on doing things and NOT wanting something in return. Hard lesson.
Dance Mogul: As long as you are able, in what ways do you wish to continue to uplift dancers?
Tony Selznick: I want to inspire them – like I am inspired. I want them to know that the people who have succeeded also failed many times, it’s about commitment.
Dance Mogul: Why MSA?
Tony Selznick: Because I was lucky enough to meet Julie McDonald. I am proud of what we have done but none of this would have happened without her vision.
Dance Mogul: How important is it for the young up and coming dancers to know about work ethic and attitude when it comes to the industry?
Tony Selznick: Well if they want a career it’s the most important part. If you just want to be famous then nothing matters but getting on top – that’s what many people want. It’s not what I look for in a dancer. I look for people who have integrity and who I know are real.
Dance Mogul: How can Dance Mogul Magazine better serve the dancers and the agencies such as MSA?
Tony Selznick: By giving away cash and by continuing to educate your readers.
Dance Mogul: At some point with God’s blessing we will be able to serve a greater purpose in our society.
Dance Mogul: Is there anyone you want to thank for helping you along your journey?
Tony Selznick: Yes my mom Rose. My brother Albie. My mentor Russell Clark. My partner Julie McDonald. My kids, Violet & Scarlet, their mom Lise. My friend Storm and my partner Florido. and my clients especially Jamie King. Marguerite Derricks. Vincent Paterson. Kenny Ortega. Brian Burke. Raj Kapoor. Fred Tallaksen. My Danceamatic partner Jason Galoob. My MSA team including JC, Jenn & Shelli and everyone else who has pushed me along the way.