Clarence Center native to perform on the Emmy Awards
BY: Lauren Kirchmyer | September 18, 2013
Do you remember that moment when you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up? For Neil Haskell, it was when he attended his first Broadway shows during his first trip to New York City.
“It gave me the idea that this is what I could do as a professional performer and dancer,” Haskell said. “It gave me an energy boost to really pursue it.”
Growing up, Haskell trained at David DeMarie Dance Studio and American Academy of Ballet. After graduating from Clarence High School in 2005, he moved to Pennsylvania to attend Point Park University.
“I really didn’t know enough about the professional entertainment industry to jump right into it,” he said. “College became another place to get even more training and get better.”
Haskell’s father has frequently told him, “If you believe it and can see it, you can achieve it,” and that’s exactly what he set out to do.
“I have these dreams about what I really want to do,” Haskell said. “If you truly believe in yourself and everything around you, it will happen. The only person who will stop you from doing it is yourself,” and he took this to heart.
When he wasn’t rehearsing at school, Haskell had the ability to audition for select shows. The week before his sophomore year was to begin, he booked his first Broadway show, “The Times They Are A-Changin,” and moved to New York City.
In 2007, he was selected to be one of the top 20 dancers to compete on the third season “So You Think You Can Dance” on Fox.
“The show definitely opened up doors for me in the entertainment industry,” Haskell said. “It pushed me to try to get to the level I wanted to be at afterwards.”
Haskell became a fan favorite, came in third place on the show’s finale and toured the United States with his cast members. During season seven, Haskell returned to the “So You Think You Can Dance” stage as an all-star for the first time, dancing with a contestant on the show.
“It’s a different kind of pressure this time around because you’re not competing for yourself,” he said. “It’s not about myself looking good on the show, it’s about how to make a contestant look as good as possible. You’re working your butt off to try to get your contestant through to next week.”
Haskell has returned as an all-star multiple times, including the season 10 finale that took place on Sept. 10.
“I always wanted to use that show as a springboard for the rest of my career,” he said. “It gave me a kick in the butt to get all of my other training, my singing and acting training, ready so I could be ready for the next opportunity that came up.”
That opportunity came knocking and Haskell found himself in the MTV movie musical “The American Mall,” touring the country in “West Side Story,” performing on Broadway in “9 to 5” and landing a lead role in the cast of “Bring it On: The Musical.”
“’Bring it On’ was definitely one of my favorite jobs to date,” he said about the musical that was nominated for “Best Musical” at this year’s Tony Awards. “The nomination gave a sense of accomplishment for us as a cast.”
“Bring it On: The Musical” closed at the end of December, but the cast reunited on June 9 to perform on the Tony Awards stage. “It was incredible closure for us,” he added.
Haskell, who recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue more acting roles, will return to your television set this Sunday, Sept. 22, as he dances on the Emmy Awards, which will begin at 8 p.m. on CBS.
To stay up to date with Haskell, follow him on Twitter and Instagram (@NeilHaskell), where he gives updates on what’s going on in his life and sends out fun backstage photos and secrets.
Haskell hopes to continue performing in his future, tell people stories in any sort of performance outlet and combine dance with acting. No matter where life takes him, he will always remember his roots.
“David DeMarie and American Academy of Ballet gave me the knowledge about performing, technique and basic life skills. I also did the musicals in middle school and high school,” he said. “It all gave me the confidence to pursue what I do today. It really shaped who I am.”