AMDA salutes alumnus Brian Burke! Brian graduated from AMDA and went straight into performing, but soon after found his calling as a successful choreographer and a director. Brian is now the Creative Director for the “X Factor UK “, as well as Director of the recent Il Divo “Wicked Game” tour, “America’s Got Talent” and “Britain’s Got Talent”. We recently spoke with Brian and asked him to share his personal experience and how he went from performing to directing in such a high profile arena.
Brian, what were your first performance jobs after your graduation from AMDA?
I graduated from AMDA NYC in 1997 from the integrated program. My first show Off-Broadway was Tap Dogs where I performed and eventually assisted the director and choreographer on supervising the numerous touring productions. Eventually I became the production supervisor of the international tours for the following 10 years. I performed in National Tours of Fame The Musical and Victor Victoria and eventually on Broadway in Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA.
How did you make the move from performing to choreographing and directing?
In 2002 I moved to Las Vegas to join the choreography team for Celine Dion’s show A New Day at Caesars Palace. The show was created by Cirque Du Soleil founder and creative director Franco Dragone. For the next 10 years I worked as director and artistic director with Franco Dragone Entertainment Group on numerous international shows including Le Reve at Wynn Las Vegas.
How did you get into the realm of directing for television?
In addition to directing live productions, both Celine and Le Reve made numerous TV appearances which I creative directed performances on live TV shows such as “The World Music Awards”, “The Latin Grammy Awards”, “Dancing With The Stars”, “The Tonight Show” and “America’s Got Talent”. During that period my agent and good friend Tony Selznick of McDonald Selznick and Assoc. in Los Angeles introduced me to Tim Byrne, the worldwide creative director of Simon Cowell’s company SYCO. I began working as an independent creative director for TV appearances for their artists in America. SONY Music also began to employ me as creative director for TV appearances and award show performances to promote their artists who were releasing albums. Eventually I was brought on board by SYCO to be series creative director for “The X Factor”, “Britain’s Got Talent” and “America’s Got Talent” and most recently as creative director for Il Divo’s TV appearances and world tour.
Is there anything you learned from AMDA that still helps you today?
I find myself using the skills I learned at AMDA everyday when I am working with performers who have not received any kind of training or even world renowned artists. My background as a performer which led into choreography and eventually into directing has been a natural progression for me. I am very happy and fortunate that this well rounded path of experience has led me to discover my true passion for the art of creative direction for stage and television. My favorite part of my craft is bringing an idea to life by working and collaborating with an entire creative team and most importantly creating a positive work process for all involved”.
About Brian Burke: Brian directed Il Divo’s 2012 “Wicked Game” World Tour and is the creative director of ”The X Factor” in the UK. Most recently Brian was the creative director of ”Americas Got Talent”, ”Britains Got Talent” and Il Divo’s newest concert DVD “Live in London.” Brian was the artistic director of Le Reve at Wynn Las Vegas and Celine Dion’s five year run of A New Day at The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas. He has been the creative director of performances for Flo Rida, One Republic, Pitbull, Marc Anthony, Elton John, Bette Midler, Brandon Flowers, Gavin DeGraw, Il Divo, Train, Kelly Rowland, Michael Bolton, Gary Barlow, Michael Grimm, Marco Antonio Solis, Laura Pausini, David Foster, Jackie Evancho, Camila, Juan Luis Guerra, Susan Boyle, Labrinth, Emeli Sande, Frankie J., “The American Music Awards”, “The Latin Grammy Awards”, “The Classic Brit Awards”, “Dancing With The Stars”, “The Tonight Show”, “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, “The Ellen Degeneres Show”, “Red or Black”, “The Today Show”, “The View”, “The Talk”, The 2002 Winter Olympic Games and numerous live performances for Celine Dion including the 2004 “World Music Awards” where she was honored as the “highest selling female recording artist of all time.”During 2008-2009, Brian directed four original stage productions in Tokyo, Japan:Voyage, Oiran, Magicarade and Treasure. He also directed the European touring production of INDIA and was the production supervisor of ten international tours of Tap Dogs. Throughout his carer Brian has also had the the pleasure of working with Justin Timberlake, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Larry King, Jerry Lewis, Joan Rivers, Dick Van Dyke, Cyd Charisse, Red Buttons, Esther Williams and The Nicholas Brothers.