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The Western Star
February 4, 2010


This weekend, three young men will help bring “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to life, and show that being a male dancer is gaining credibility and popularity in Corner Brook, and around the world.

Ryan Giles, Ernest Power and Nicholas Fleming are three students taking on lead roles in the Shakespearean romantic comedy about four young Athenian lovers and their interaction with the fairy world, as performed by Dance Studio West.

All three say they have dealt with similar heckles and jeers from peers about being dancers, and have all risen above it all in leaps and bounds with a pride and passion for what they do.

Giles, 16, plays the part of Oberon in this mystical and moonlit environment. He has been dancing with the studio for about 10 years, moving through genres such has hip hop, jazz, tap and ballet.

Giles said being a dancer allows him insight into a world that not many share.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s original. We have our own thing. There are not many male dancers, and it’s a fun thing to be able to do.”

Giles said for any other boys or young men who are contemplating getting involved in dance, his advice is to listen to yourself and plunge in. “…just do it if you’ve got a passion for it. It’s really fun. It’s good exercise. You have a family in the studio — just like a second home.”

Playing the role of one of the Athenian lovers is Ernest Power, a 19-year-old who has been dancing for almost three years. He was performing in “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in 2007 with the Off-Broadway Players when the choreographer for the show as well as director of “Dream,” Amy Andrews, saw he had the potential to be a dancer.

“It was a fluke really … I was sitting really weird to help my character and she looked at me really odd and said, ‘You’re freakishly flexible for a guy. You’re in my dance class now.’ I pretty much got tossed into it and I enjoyed it ever since,” said Power.

He current takes classes in jazz, ballet, hip hop and modern, going to classes about four times a week while studying at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College. He plays the part of Lysander, a sweet young man who is in love with a woman whom he cannot marry.
“I’m kind of the sweetheart so I find that kind of funny,” he said.

Power agrees with Giles about grasping any interest in dance and go with it to see what it’s like before making a decision.“Go in open-minded, you know, don’t be judgmental,” he said. “There are lots of physical benefits.”

Fleming, 18, plays the part of Demetrius, another young man who is initially in love with the same woman as Lysander, constantly pursuing her until the fairies play a trick on the young lovers and everything is tilted off balance.

He has been dancing for about five years, all with Dance Studio West. “I had quite a strong influence (to start dancing) from my sister; she was involved with dance since a very young age … I’ve always really been involved with the arts whether it be with theatre or performing in the music festival,” said Fleming.

He said people in the world today have grown to be more accepting and open-minded to new or different things. “It’s become natural for people to do what they love and to express themselves in different ways,” he said. “It’s not typical for a teenaged, high school, male student to be involved in dance and certainly so heavily. I love it and people who see that, they respect it. I take as much from it as I can and put into it as much as I can,” he said.

There are six males and 120 girls in the show this weekend. Fleming said when you’re one of the few males involved in the dance community or production, everyone is respectful. “You’re with people who are like-minded … They’re not afraid to go against the grain. They’re not afraid to be themselves.

You build some strong relationships there. Strong relationships and a strong physique, as Fleming said dance is very much an athletic pursuit. “Contrary to popular belief, ballet for sure, which is ironic because that one has a more feminine connotation, is very rigorous and makes you disciplined as a person. You start it and you thrive to become better. You see progress and you take pride in that,” he said.

Fleming said he hopes other young people watch the dancers onstage this weekend and think about what could be possible. “If a young kid, a young guy, watching the show maybe will take something from that. It could get them involved and I think that would be great,” he said.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is showing Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre. Giles said the rehearsals started in September so the nerves and excitement are building up.

“I can’t wait. It’s been constant rehearsal and anticipation for the show,” he said. The dance show brings a multitude of dance styles to the stage including ballet, jazz and hip hop.


© The Western Star

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