Talk to Grady McLeod Bowman about his early years, and it’s immediately clear where his stylistic versatility, choreographic intelligence and knack for storytelling originate. Precocious from the start, Bowman appeared in theater productions regularly starting at age 5. By 10, he was a tapper, and just six years later he was teaching his own dance classes.
Having toured with Pilobolus Dance Theater and performed in the original cast of several Broadway shows, Bowman is now sought after as a director and choreographer of musicals, plays and independent film projects. At Broadway Dance Center, The Performing Arts Project and University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Bowman encourages his musical theater, contemporary and tap students to be versatile. “Shows are asking for so many different things these days, and you’ve got to be able to adapt: jumping from style to style, differentiating the different movement qualities.”
Bowman says he’s not a traditional musical theater choreographer, because he gravitates more toward contemporary theater music (think Once or Spring Awakening). That said, “Sometimes I’ll take a song from Crazy for You or Catch Me If You Can and challenge myself to choreograph a traditional combination. When I teach, I like to create challenges for myself as well as for the dancers.”