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By Nina Amir
My Son Can Dance
Febuary 4, 2013

Patel Conservatory Summer Intensive

With summer ballet intensives the topic of conversation at this time of the year, I’d like to take the time to address a question I often get from dance moms and dads: When is the right time to send my dancin’ boy off to an expensive summer intensive?

Let me preface my answer by saying that every boy is different. And his teacher will know best when the time is right for him to branch out and go somewhere else to be seen and to experience other teachers. I am by no means an expert at evaluating if a dancin’ boy is at the perfect level or emotional state to leave the womb of his current studio and venture out into what might be a very different and much more competitive environment from what he is used to.

However, I want to caution you that your son’s dance teachers may not always be the right ones to ask for advice either. Some schools and teachers encourage participation in summer intensives outside the school. Others frown on it or even disallow it. Keep in mind that if you ask your son’s teacher or school director for advice, he or she may have his or her own interests at heart as well as your dancin’ boy’s interests. By this I mean that dance studio owners and dance teachers have fears—and with good reason—that if they send their students off to other schools for the summer, the boys won’t come back. And with boys so hard to come by, they may be inclined to advise your son to stick around for their in-house intensive rather than risk losing him to some other school (and possibly a school with more boys and a bigger or better program).

This is where being the best dance mom or dad means becoming your son’s manager. Literally. If you don’t have someone you can trust to ask for advice—someone with no financial interest in your son’s career—then you must start managing his career for him. You must learn to do what you feel is best for him.

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By Tim Novotny
The Coos Bay World
January 26, 2013

Nick Peregrino, BalletFleming[Coos Bay, Oregon, USA] — At 25, Nick Peregrino is starting to see his professional dance career take off. But the former Marshfield Pirates football player and wrestler is taking a break from his busiest year yet, to give back to the community and dance school that helped give his life direction.

Peregrino is in his second season under contract with BalletFleming in Philadelphia. He performs with the group for about half the year. The rest of his time is spent in freelance work, performing with ballet companies all over the globe.

This year, however, he added a trip home to Coos Bay. He has spent the past couple of weeks teaching and interacting with young dancers at the Pacific School of Dance, an off-campus program of the Boys & Girls Club of Southwestern Oregon. It’s where his life took wing about nine years ago.

Peregrino was a Marshfield High School junior when a fellow student persuaded him to check out a performance at the Coos Bay Library. He immediately started taking classes. ‘I had no clue what I was getting myself into, to be honest. I had seen some movies and heard stories,” said Peregrino, as we sat in the Eastside studio. ‘I was really in over my head when I first joined, but I just loved it. I loved the soreness.”

At 17, he was a late starter in dance. Taking up ballet was an unusual decision for a high school football player. But Peregrino says the initial snickering died down after people saw him perform.

One of his first public performances was ‘West Side Story” at North Bend’s Little Theatre on the Bay. ‘I remember walking around to the grocery store, and people would come to me and say, ‘You are that dancer, right?’ Even people from North Bend. I was being recognized as an artist locally, and it was really a neat experience to go from one extreme to the other.”

Meanwhile, at Pacific School of Dance, staff members were noticing this diamond in the rough. For the first time, he heard that he was good enough to make dance a career.

After graduation, the school put him in contact with John Grensback, artistic director of the Oregon Ballet Academy in Eugene. He became Peregrino’s mentor. Things sped up after that. Peregrino moved to schools in New York and Philadelphia before starting to freelance and ultimately being signed by BalletFleming.

Peregrino’s success is the result of years of dedicated work, starting in Coos Bay. Though he had been an athlete, dancing taught him pain in muscles he hadn’t known existed. ‘It really became my passion and really became something I loved to do and just could not turn away from,” he said. ‘I only felt alive when I was in the studio.”

His passion has paid off. In the past year, he has performed as a principal dancer in 12 states and six countries. ‘I can’t imagine my life without dance,” he said. ‘You know, the places I had only ever seen in textbooks, I’ve seen and smelled the air, and I can tell you what it feels like to be there. It’s something very special, and I just wish more men and women would take that opportunity to just to be able to express themselves and see what dance can do for them.”

Visits from professionals such as Peregrino are great experiences for the Pacific School’s young dancers, said artistic director Connie Hogge. ‘They just bring a presence back with them, a confidence along with their skills, just being in the facility makes a big difference,” she said. Peregrino took time to speak with the five young male dancers currently in the program, giving them a chance to meet someone they can emulate.

‘I know just watching them take class after talking with him, they danced differently; they danced with more confidence,” Hogge said.

© Copyright 2013 Coos Bay World

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By Geralda Miller
The Reno Gazette-Journal
January 4, 2013

[Reno, Nevada, USA] – Logan Strand saw the movie “Happy Feet” and all he wanted after that was to be able to move his feet like Mumble. “Something about that little penguin dancing and being himself kind of moved me,” the 11-year-old said. “They had a little thing where the guy who did the tapping for ‘Happy Feet’ showed you the basic moves and the basic keys of tapping. And I just said to my mom, ‘Mom, I want to do that. I want to do that.’”

His mother, Diane Strand, grew up dancing and performed in MGM Grand’s “Hello Hollywood, Hello,” so she knew to contact Kia Crader, owner and dance teacher at Fascinating Rhythm School of Performing Arts in south Reno, who also performed in the casino production.

Logan was 5 when he put on his first pair of tap shoes in Crader’s boys-only tap class. He’s been dancing ever since. He’s one of 16 children currently performing in the Eldorado Showroom’s holiday production of “Aladdin.”

Although for most of the local children, performing in the Eldorado Showroom might be considered major league, it isn’t for Logan. He’s acted in commercials, had a part in a major film for Paramount Studios, auditioned on Broadway and danced in the Christmas show with the Rockettes in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.

“Logan was born for the stage,” Crader said. “He is a funny, intelligent and quirky kid who takes to the stage like a fish to water. He is truly in his element when he is performing.”

Tap dance kid

It started with tap classes every Thursday. Luckily, Crader offered a boys-only class because Logan didn’t want to dance with girls.

“Then all the boys from my boys tap class quit, eventually,” he said. “Then Miss Kia brought me into the girls tap class. I was there with these older girls. From then on, I was only in a few classes where I was with other boys and the rest of the time girls, girls, girls everywhere.”

But tap wasn’t enough. He wanted to take hip-hop dance, jazz and even acting classes. His mom insisted that he first learn ballet. “I’m not going to spend my money on hip-hop and jazz because ballet is the foundation of all dance,” she said. “I said, ‘If you really want to seriously be a dancer, you have to take ballet. I’m just telling you this from a dancer’s perspective.’”

Logan associated ballet with pink tutus, and Strand had to explain that the girls wear the tutus, not the boys. “So he tried it, ended up really liking it and being fairly good at it,” she said.

Logan is passionate about performing, to the point that just to talk about it brings him to tears. “Dancing and acting and just performing, it’s not just something I do, it’s part of my life,” he said. “It’s my life. It’s what I do. Some people think, ‘Oh, that’s just a thing you do. It’s no big deal. You’ll probably forget about it.’ I don’t want to forget about it. And when I do dance or perform, it makes feel like I’m my true self. I feel like I know myself and this is what I’m happy doing.”

Paramount beginnings

Not only did Logan want to dance, he wanted to act. “I kept thinking, the more he tried it, that he would find out it was real work,” Strand said. “Kids see this and they think oh, it’s fun and glamorous. I said, ‘You don’t understand that it’s real work, so I want you to experience what it really is.’” So, mom and her youngest son traveled to Los Angeles to audition at a few agencies. By the end of the trip, he had signed an agent.

Next, the 7-year-old got called to his first audition at Paramount Studios, where he ended up getting hired to play actor Eric Bana’s younger self in the film “Star Trek.” He even shaved his head for the part.

“It ended up after many trips to L.A., hours of him working on set, that they cut the entire scene,” she said. “But it’s in the DVD in the bonus features. And you see J.J. Abrams working with Logan and the boys as they put them in this basement. They had to work in the mud, in the cold.”

But Logan got paid. Now, the professional child actor has a Coogan trust account. “He’s got a nice little nest egg for when he’s an adult,” Strand said. “How many kids can say that? When he was working at Radio City for 20 minutes on stage, he was making more than I ever have as an adult.”

While in Los Angeles, Logan joined more than 300 youths at the Debbie Reynolds Studio to audition. “He went in to audition, and I’m looking at all these kids and saying, ‘There’s no way,’” his mom said. “And he was way taller than all the other kids.”

Logan ended up being fourth on the list and the third child didn’t want the job. “I remember just crying, probably lost 2 pounds from just crying that day because I was so happy,” he said. “I was not their first choice but that’s fine with me. Just being one of their choices is great. I went there and just being in that theater, it was amazing.”

Diane Strand and her son Logan,11,  who began dancing when he was 5 (Photo by Liz Margerum} 2013He worked for four months in Radio City Music Hall, dancing with 70 Rockettes.

Mom couldn’t help but be ecstatic. “I was in heaven,” she said. “I have to admit. As a dancer, that was the ultimate. I was so proud. I was walking two feet off of the sidewalk. Yes, maybe that one time I was living a fantasy through him. But he did that all on his own. I was just along for the ride.”

And what a ride it was.

While in New York, Logan signed with Shirley Grant Management, which is one of the top talent firms for youth. He also auditioned for the Broadway musical “Billy Elliot.” He was placed in a training camp for the character Michael, but the show got canceled in January.

Returning to Reno wasn’t easy. “I don’t know what it was, but emotionally he struggled, coming back and reconnecting with the kids here,” Strand said. “He was really struggling with the bullying and the sense of not knowing what to do.”

Back to reality

Logan said it was difficult at Roy Gomm Elementary School until he was placed in a school program. “It’s been hard,” he said, crying. “There always are those kids who are bullies. I have been called names, like ‘ballerina boy’ and other things. But thankfully, my parents, my family, my friends have always been there to support me through those things.”

Strand also made a big decision for her son.

“I decided it was time to stop, take him off of the books in Los Angeles, take him off the books in New York and just let him have at least a year of trying to stay here, be a kid,” she said. “If there are performance opportunities here he can do, good, fine. But it was becoming too much pressure.”

Although he has plenty of time to make up his mind, right now, Logan is torn about his future. He loves to dance, but he also loves reptiles and thinks it would be fun to be a herpetologist.

“I think as I get older there’s going to be a huge conflict between those two,” he said. “Someday, I’m going to have to decide. I don’t know right now. I’m just shunning that idea. One day, I don’t know. I’ll be whoever I’ll be.”

Copyright © 2013

The Arizona Red Book
January 22, 2013

David Hallberg in Romeo and JulietDavid Hallberg, alumnus of The School of Ballet Arizona, has inspired support for future young male dancers. Ballet Arizona has announced a new scholarship in honor of one of the leading male dancers in the world. Hallberg is a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre in New York City and a premiere dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.

He made history a little over a year ago when he became the first American to join the renowned Bolshoi, a move that evoked memories of Rudolf Nureyev’s and Mikhail Baryshnikov’s defection from Russia to dance in the West. Hallberg splits his time between the two pinnacle houses of the dance world, ABY in New York and the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and has become a national celebrity, from appearing on such mainstream media as The Colbert Report and CBS Sunday this Morning to features in Vogue and W Magazine.

Hallberg attributes much of his success to the support and training he received in Phoenix at Ballet Arizona during the late ’90s and wishes to encourage more young boys to pursue dance.

“The intention of The David Hallberg Scholarship for Boys is to help nurture and facilitate training at The School of Ballet Arizona. It is never an easy feat to have the courage or the means to find your calling in ballet as a young boy,” Hallberg says, “but this scholarship will help facilitate that journey through financial support and guidance. My personal journey to finding ballet was riddled with hardships, but once ballet found a place in my life as a kid, I couldn’t let go of its exhilarating pulse. I have made it my career to date and to pass on the inspiration I felt when I was first discovering ballet is a completely invaluable experience.”

Hallberg will serve as a member of the scholarship’s selection committee with Ballet Arizona’s Artistic Director Ib Andersen and School Director Carlos Valcárcel. In addition, as available, he will oversee Master Classes for young dancers at Ballet Arizona’s new studios.

The David Hallberg Scholarship Program for Boys will award scholarships for ballet class tuition and supplies to boys who demonstrate a passion for ballet and meet the audition requirements of The School of Ballet Arizona.

Scholarships will be awarded to one or more boys from age 13 and older on an annual basis determined by audition and review of a written application. The number of scholarships will depend on funding of the program.

Read more about David Hallberg

Help support the program

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By Nina Amir
My Son Can Dance
January 20, 2013

Nina Amir author of Mysoncandance recently asked Mick Gunter, who own and runs the Centralia Ballet Academy, why his ballet school has been so sucessful in attracting boys.

Boys at Centralia Ballet Academy 2011Centralia Ballet Academy, was established in 2009. It now have about 80 students; over 20 of them are boys. This last October, the Academy completed its first production, a full length ballet version of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It will become the Academy’s Halloween Nutcracker. In 2014, the males students from Centralia Ballet Academy will perform at the Men in Dance festival in Seattle.

Since the number of boys enrolled in Centralia Ballet Academy far exceeded many other ballet programs and the boys programming seemed stellar, I asked Mick to answer some questions for me, for other studio owners and dance teachers, and for parents. While parents and boys reading this post may think, “Hey! My studio doesn’t offer this type of programming.” Or, “Why doesn’t my son’s dance program get as many boys coming to the studio?” I hope that reading Mick’s responses will give you “ammunition”—good suggestions—to take to Goblin from Centralia Ballet Academy's The Sorcer's Apprentice 2012your studio owners or dance teachers. Additionally, reading about his program will give you an idea of what to look for in a boys’ ballet program. As for studio owners and teachers, there’s much here in Mick’s brief answers to mull over.

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Posts Tagged NinaAmir/My Son Can Dance

Boys’ Programs Page

By Steve Walker and Julie Denesha
Kancas City Public Radio (KCUR)
January 18, 2013

[Kansas City, Missouri, USA] – The musical Billy Elliot, which won ten Tony Awards in 2009 and comes to Kansas City’s Music Hall next week, teaches that to move toward a dream, the dream must involve movement.

With music by Elton John, it’s the story of an 11-year-old boy who gives up boxing for ballet, much to the chagrin of his father and brother, both ensnared in a British miner’s strike. Yet the issues and passions stoked by the show are not unfamiliar to young male dancers in Kansas City.

The Boys Who Would Be ‘Billy’

To meet the emotionally and physically bruising demands of playing the title character in the musical about an 11-year-old’s determination to convince his world that it’s okay for him to dance, the North American touring company divides the eight-shows-a-week performance schedule among four young dancers. The show’s resident choreographer, Adam Pelty, says he works with the kids every day in every city to keep the experience raw for both dancer and audience.

“We constantly push them to keep on finding new things,” Pelty says. “They are truly deep kids, amazing kids. There’s a certain kind of boy that plays Billy. It’s not just their dancing ability or their singing ability or any of the skills that are required. It’s about a certain discipline, a self-motivation, It takes a while to find that kid. But it’s inspiring every day because these boys make these leaps.”

In the second act in a song called “Electricity,” Billy gets to audition for a prestigious ballet school, when he’s asked a pertinent but tough question: “What does it feel like when you’re dancing?”

“I can’t really explain it. I haven’t got the words,” he sings. “It’s a feeling that you can’t control.”

The Boy at the Barre

Shawn Kramarovsky is the Prince in Kansas City Ballet's Nutcracker 2012Like Billy, it seems every young male dancer has overcome a litany of objections and stereotypes about boys and ballet. Twelve-year-old Shawn Kramarovsky says that his love of dance negates any disapproval he’s been subjected to.

“Since you’re little, you have the stereotype that girls in pink tutus do it,” he says at the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity [Kansas City Ballet] “Then you go in, you’re breaking that stereotype. You get a lot of disapproval. I still have a few family members who disapprove.”

Photos: Boy’s Class at Bolender Center Dance

Shawn is asked if he remembers what he did to either shut that disapproval down or show his confidence.

“I ignored it,” he quickly replies.”I really didn’t care what they thought about it. I loved doing it and if they didn’t like it, I wouldn’t matter to them anyway. If you don’t like it or me as a person, then don’t hang around with me. It’s not something you’re forced to do. They start accepting it, and then when I was in The Nutcracker, they were so proud because this is pretty cool.”

As much as she was in his cheering section, his mother, Tanya Kramarovksy, says she wanted to prepare her son for the possible slings and arrows.

“When he wanted to dance ballet a year and a half ago, I tried to bring up different reasons why certain people wouldn’t accept you. Because I’d heard about other boys bullied at school. I was kind of afraid,” she recalls.

“I even told him, ‘You will need to dance in tights,’ and he’s like, ‘I don’t care. Even in (a) skirt – please let me dance.’ (I told him) if it’s what you want to do, I will do whatever I can and I will support you.”

Calm Without a Storm

Ocea Thompson,11, warms up at the barre at the Kansas City Ballet School 2013 (Photo - Steve Walker)While Shawn arrived at ballet from ballroom dancing, eleven-year-old Ocea Thompson came at it from another angle completely – his interest in sports – and is asked what ballet offers that could help him in sports.

“What helps you with ballet and sports is that it makes you get better eye-hand coordination,” he says before a class at the Bolender Center. “You get foot coordination. It helps your senses. You know the body better. You’re more limber. Really good stuff.”

Ocea eventually reported to his mother, Tiffany Thompson, another benefit of ballet that any mother of an 11-year-old boy might aspire to achieve – it made him feel calm.

He saw Billy Elliot in New York and says he relates to the show’s young protagonist.

“He has a drive to dance,” Ocea says. “Everybody says he can’t do that, when really what matters inside is that you can do whatever you want. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you’re a boy doing ballet or a girl playing tackle football. If you really enjoy something you should keep on doing it.”

Though this leg of the North American tour will be its last, any stragglers can still see the show in London, where it has been selling out houses since 2005.

©2013 KCUR

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By Jenny Barwise
The News and Star
January 19, 2013

Move over Billy Elliot there’s a new dancer in town

Jamie Dennison,12, has won a place at Elmhurst School for Dance 2013[Birmingham, England] – Jamie Dennison is celebrating after learning he’s danced his way into a place at one of the two most important ballet schools in Britain. The talented 12-year-old from Bothel is “still in the clouds” after being offered a full scholarship at the prestigious Elmhurst Ballet School in Birmingham.

Although his family say that he was born to dance, Jamie only started dance lessons three years ago when he was nine.

And the first time the principal of Lakeland Studio of Dance and Performing Arts, Avril Crellin, saw him perform, she knew there was something special about him and pushed him to reach his full potential.

After taking lessons for just four weeks, Jamie auditioned for the Royal Ballet Association, where he was accepted onto the programme and since then has travelled to Manchester or Newcastle on a weekly basis for lessons, as well as attending the Branthwaite dance school three times a week.

“He’s always danced around the house,” said his dad, Jon. “When Miss Avril saw him, she spotted straight away that Jamie had talent.

Last November Jamie, who hopes to become a ballet choreographer, auditioned for a place at Elmhurst – affiliated to the Birmingham Royal Ballet. After beating hundreds of other hopefuls, he found out this week that his dream was to come true.

Jon and his wife, Andrea, said they had to “pick themselves up off the floor” when they found out about their son’s success. “We are both extremely proud of Jamie and so are his grandparents. We know he’s worked hard and is passionate about dance. It is a dream come true for him. He is such a beautiful dancer and was born to dance.”

“Jamie is just a normal 12-year-old with a rare talent and we are so lucky that somebody spotted that talent – it wouldn’t have happened without Miss Avril.”

He will start his scholarship after the February half-term holidays.

Billy Elliot is a cult hit British drama film made in 2000, written by Lee Hall and directed by Stephen Daldry. Set in northern England, it stars Jamie Bell as 11-year-old Billy, an aspiring dancer.


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