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Pierson Feeney, 11, at the Gulf Coast School of Performing Arts (John Fitzhugh. Sun Herald) 2016-01

 

By Justin Fitzhugh
The Charlotte Observer
March 30, 2016

 

[D’Iberville, Mississippi, USA] – D’Iberville Middle School student Pierson Feeney finds himself checking the clock often when he has down time in class. The 11-year-old said he anticipates dismissal so he can hop on the bus and head to the Gulf Coast School of Performing Arts.”I’m always looking at what time it is, wishing it was time to go so I could go to dance,” he said.

Some classmates don’t understand Pierson’s passion for ballet, hip-hop, house, ballroom and contemporary dancing. In fact, he often faces ridicule from his peers. “At school, they’ll make fun of me, saying dance is all for girls,” he said. “I know girls do dance a lot, and it’s most[ly] girls in dance (class), but boys do it, too. If anybody says anything to me, I just ignore them.”

Many D’Iberville Middle students have never seen him on stage, nor do they understand how the art form changed his life for the better, the sixth-grader said. Pierson was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder when he was 4. By the time he was 6, he began to show differences in behavior that led doctors to put him on morning and night doses of prescription medicine.

Now, Pierson is a different child. He says his dance is how he gets out his frustration and how he gets his excitement out.

But it seemed to make his condition worse, Pierson’s mother, Marsha Feeney, said. By the time he was 9, it was hard for the family to go out in public together. Pierson had developed ticks, and medical professionals diagnosed him with Tourette Syndrome.

Marsha Feeney was desperate to help her son. She noticed that Pierson constantly shuffled his feet, so she asked if taking tap dancing lessons would be something he would like.

“His ADHD was disrupting our whole family,” Marsha Feeney said. “We, at the time, could not go to dinner. We could not go to birthday parties. We pretty much stayed home.

“Now, Pierson is a different child. He says his dance is how he gets out his frustration and how he gets his excitement out.”

What started as a couple of tap classes now encompasses every single dance class offered at Elaine Kulick’s performing art school: ballet, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, ballroom and house. He also takes tumbling and acting classes. “It was as if God whispered and said, ‘We need to find a useful and productive use of all this energy,’ ” she said.

In two years since, Pierson’s technique has improved tremendously, and he earned a spot on the Gulf Coast Performing Arts Center competition dance team.

“When I first started, I didn’t know anything and it was really hard,” Pierson said. With ADHD he said he couldn’t control himself. Whenever you take class, you have to focus more. I started learning how to control myself because you have to be quiet in class and pay attention.”

After a year in dance, the ticks were gone. Pierson was off of almost all medication, but Marsha Feeney said her son still takes a low-dose of the ADHD drug Concerta before big tests or important days at school. Pierson goes to dance every single day after school and often stays until 8 p.m. or later. By the time he gets home, he’s covered in sweat and he’s oftentimes so worn out that it’s easy for him to fall asleep.

“I like being here better than home,” Pierson said. “It’s where my friends are and where my teachers are.”

Pierson said he believes dance is what helped him get his ADHD under control. “I felt so good because I could actually do something,” he said. “Every time I dance, I feel something in my heart and my head, and I just want to keep dancing, and it makes me feel really good about myself.”

Pierson Feeney, 11, dances with Rosa Machado, 11, during a rehearsal at the Gulf Coast School of Performing Arts (John Fitzhugh, Sun Herald) 2016 

 

Dance champion

Pierson’s hard work in dance class paid off this year when he won three awards at a Hollywood Vibe dance competition at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi.

He earned the Junior Scholarship Award and the Los Angeles Talent Agency Award in his age division. Overall, he scored one of the biggest prizes: Regional Dancer of the Year. He will travel to Las Vegas from June 27 to July 2 and audition to be a part of Hollywood Vibe’s tour, a team that travels across to U.S. and hosts dance clinics.

Marsha Feeney and her husband were ecstatic that Pierson did so well. “He has worked very hard, and it wasn’t just given to him,” she said. “When we pick him up at night, he is so tired. … Just to win one award, we would have went home feeling like we had conquered the world.”

Pierson said when his name was called as dancer of the year, he had to pinch himself to make sure it was real. “I just couldn’t believe it,” he said.

Pierson Feeney, 11, works with ballet instructor Vasily Lunde during a rehearsal at the Gulf Coast School of Performing Arts (John Fitzhugh, Sun Herald) 2016 

 

What his coaches say

Hip-hop, house and ballroom coach Josh Burchette said he and Pierson did not get along when the then 9-year-old started taking class. “He didn’t like my classes at first,” Burchette said. But the coach discovered in class that Pierson really excelled in house, a sub-style of hip-hop dancing. “It started opening up other styles of hip-hop, and he started growing.

“House is one of those styles, you don’t normally see people learn off the bat. It’s a mature style and a mature mindset. It’s about soul. It’s about feel. For an 11-year-old to get that at that age, that can put 30-year-olds to shame.”

Burchette said Pierson is one of his best students. “He’s such an amazing dancer,” he said. “He deserves it. He deserves being called dancer of the year. I’m really proud of him.”

Jazz and contemporary coach Casie March said Pierson works hard and listens to coaches, and that helps him excel. “He’s very talented,” she said. “He puts forth 110 percent in everything he does.”

Ballet instructor Vasily Lunde said his class is one of the hardest because ballet movements have to be perfect.

Lunde said he and Pierson have butted heads in the past, but he’s a hard worker and will push himself beyond his limits.

“He’s not scared,” he said.

 

Dancing and Dad

Marsha Feeney said it was very hard for husband at first to appreciate Pierson’s passion for dance. He had to miss his son’s first live performance because of a prior engagement. But he saw his son on stage during last year’s competition, and his mind totally changed.

“As soon as Pierson got on stage that afternoon, and my husband saw him, he was blown away. He got it then, and he understood.”

Pierson said he is happy to have his father’s support. “He just didn’t think I was a good dancer because he had never seen me. He always had to go somewhere,” he said. “Now, he shows up for all of my performances and is there in whatever way he can.”

Pierson said he hopes to dance professionally in the future.

 

This story originally appeared in the SunHerald.

Copyright 2016 The Sun Herald

 

 

By Deborah Searle
Capezio.com
February 18, 2016

 

 

Brady Farrar (Farrar)10-year-old Brady Farrar is one to watch. Training at Stars Dance Company in Miami, the young dance prodigy and Capezio Athlete just won the Hope Award at the Youth America Grand Prix Semi-Finals in Atlanta. Brady is now busy training for the New York City Finals, at which he will be a serious contender for first prize after winning Mini Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA) and Mini Best Male Dancer at The Dance Awards in the last two years.

Fresh from performing at the YAGP Tampa Gala and from competing in Atlanta, the focused, yet humble, young man spoke to Dance Informa about his dance dreams and his journey thus far.

Last year you won Silver in your age division at the YAGP Finals in New York City. How did it feel?

“I felt overwhelmed at first, but then I was like, ‘Yessssss!’ It’s so cool, because everyone from all over the world was there. I was like, ‘Wow!’ I didn’t expect to get anything. I was like, ‘Really? I got this? Oh my.’”

Are you wanting to go for the Gold this year at the Finals in New York?

Brady Farrar (JP Photography)“Yes!”

What do you think is your strength as a dancer?

“Probably jumps and flexibility.”

What other competitions have you been competing in lately?

“I went to NYCDA and JUMP Convention (Break the Floor). I’ve been to Adrenaline too. I haven’t been to too many this year yet because it’s early in the year, but I hope to be going to more, like nationals.”

At Stars, you do a homeschool dance program. What is it like?

“Well, most kids go in to do homework from 8-9 am. There’s an optional yoga class, and if you don’t want to do that, you do school from 8-10 am. And at 10 am, there’s one ballet class from 10 am to 12 pm and then a 30-minute break. And then from 12:30 to 2:30 pm, there’s another ballet class. And at 2:30 to 5:30 pm, we do more school. And then from 5:30 pm on, we have the night classes until either 8:30 or 9:30 pm.”

Wow. So how many hours a week do you dance?

“Probably like 40 or 30 – something like that. It’s Monday to Thursday, leaving the weekends free for competitions and conventions.”

Brady Farrar (from Brady's Gallery at Capezio.com)

 

What is it about dance that you really love? Why do you put so much time into dance?

“I think it helps me express how I feel. If I’m tired, I’ll dance kind of tired. And if I’m really energetic, I’ll dance happy and do some jazz. And if I’m sad and going through a rough time, like an elderly person is sick, I’ll dance really sad.”

Do you prefer ballet or contemporary?

“I like both. I can’t decide which I like better.”

Do you aspire to become a professional dancer?

“I want to be a professional dancer. And I want to be in a company, maybe like The Royal Ballet or somewhere around the world.”

Are you thinking a traditional ballet company or a contemporary dance company?

“A traditional ballet company.”

You won the national title of Mini Outstanding Dancer at NYCDA last year, and got a chance to model for Capezio as part of the NYCDA Model Search. The photo shoot was on the roof of the iconic 51st Street NYC store. What was that like?

“It was really fun because it was so high and I could feel the wind and see all of New York. It was so cool. I was with my friends, too. Capezio gave me lots of clothes and I wear the shoes all the time.”

What is it about Capezio clothes and shoes that you really like?

“They’re just so comfortable. They’re warm and some are tight fitting and some are loose and you can’t find that in other brands. [In other brands] there’s like one size for boys, or no half sizes, and they might be too big. But they fit it right to me with Capezio.”

Besides dance, what else do you like to do?

“I love to go shopping, I love swimming and I love building Legos. I also like playing with my brothers and going on vacation.”

 

© 2016 CAPEZIO

 

 

By Hazel Murray
The Cornishman
February 16, 2016

 

 

Jordan Scrase, 17, has been awarded three college scholarships (2016)[Cornwall, England] – A ballet dancer from St Just has been awarded three college scholarships to pursue a career in Performing Arts. Jordan Scrase has performed in a number of shows with the Hall for Cornwall’s youth ballet group Duchy Ballet Company, from Snow Wolf to his present role as Kai and Star, the male lead for their 2016 production of ‘Snow Queen & Stepping out to Gershwin’.

The 17-year-old, who started dancing at the age of four and joined the Duchy Ballet Company four years later, said: “It pushes my body to the absolute limits, you feel drained but I love to keep fit. I love performing, it is amazing and full of adrenalin. I don’t have a favourite ballet but enjoy dancing in lots of roles.”

After dancing with the company for nine years, he has now been offered three scholarships at Body Works, Cambridge, the Millennium School in London and the Performers College in Essex.

As well as being a talented dancer and actor Jordan can turn his hand to many instruments from acoustic guitar, bass guitar, piano and drums, as well as utilising his footwork skills to play football.

Having started dancing at Anne Webb’s dance school in Penzance as a young boy, Jordan continued his dance training at Capitol School of Dance with Terence Etheridge, and is currently doing the pre-vocational Performing Arts course at Jason Thomas Dance.

Jordan said: “I would love to perform in the West End or a cruise ship to use all my skills. I chose to study Performing Arts because it’s something I’ve always loved and Duchy Ballet provides a great opportunity to gain more experience.”

As for being surrounded by females dancers, he added: “It’s a bonus!”

Duchy Ballet will be performing The Snow Queen & Stepping out to Gershwin at the Hall for Cornwall on Friday March 11 and Saturday March 12 with matinees and evening performances.

 

Copyright © 2016 Local World

 

 

At the Royal Dance Academy in National Park (from left), Christopher Pietrowski, 11; Brianna Daniels, 18; and TJ Koger, 11, practice a tap routine. (Charles Mostoller) 2016

 

By Catherine Laughlin
The Inquirer
February 04, 2016

 

[National Park, New Jersey, USA] – Outside in the frigid air, what sound like thunderclaps come rumbling from behind the glass storefront on a dim thoroughfare in National Park. Inside, the culprit: Two diminutive 11-year-old boys are burning up the Royal Dance Academy’s wooden floor, tap-dancing to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”

TJ Koger and Christopher Pietrowski, both of West Deptford, active in the dance and theater communities since they were toddlers, leaped into tap history in December when they won a gold medal in the children’s trio division at the International Dance Organization Tap Dance Championships in Riesa, Germany – the tap equivalent of the Olympics. They were among 35 American participants in the 1,500-person event, and two of three competitors from the Philadelphia area. Briana Daniels, 18, of Deptford, won a silver medal.

For more than a century, tap dance – a mix of African step and Irish jig – has been shuffling its way across stages (Broadway, cruise ships, cabarets), enjoying bouts of mainstream momentum (Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire during the 1930s and ’40s, then Happy Feet movies in the 2000s, and last summer’s documentary Tap World), only to recede again into the wings. But tap enthusiasts say the dance discipline never goes away; in fact, recent events show another tap wave a-comin’.

In September, 36-year-old artist Michelle Dorrance (she and her tap troupe Dorrance Dance debuted in Philadelphia in December) was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, receiving $625,000 over five years to pursue creativity in tap dance.

Nancy Chippendale, director of the American Tap Company in Boston, and organizer of TEAM USA for the IDO competitions, says Dorrance’s MacArthur Fellowship gives incredible exposure to the art form. “And there are reality dance shows and the Internet keeping tap in people’s minds,” she said. And Broadway’s Shuffle Along, Or the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, opening in April and starring Audra McDonald. The all-black musical is a reprise, created by accomplished tapper Savion Glover and director George C. Wolfe.

Christopher Pietrowski (left), Brianna Daniels, and TJ Koger take turns practicing two-minute routines before a wall of mirrors (The Inquirer) 2016

On this January night, Koger, Pietrowski and Daniels, wearing red-white-and-blue TEAM USA sweat suits, take turns hoofing in two-minute stretches before a wall of mirrors. Slap, stomp, shuffle! They go through a repertoire of routines, smiling at a make-believe audience. After the music stops, they pivot to a lunge. But Koger doesn’t stop shuffling. “I just like performing,” he says cheekily.

Asked who inspires them as tappers, immediately Pietrowski says, “Elvis!”

Hmm, because of the way he moved those hips?

“No. I want to be a tap dancer who becomes as popular as he was!”

The instructor, Stephen May, 24, wearing an atypical wardrobe of jeans, boots, and an athletic shirt, shakes his head in mock disbelief. No doubt the tap scene would welcome some “All Shook Up” craze.

Mays says that when he was growing up, famous tappers Gregory Hines, known for his heavy, low-to-the-ground funky style, and his protégé Glover were his inspiration. Today, he singles out Israeli dancers Avi Miller and Ofer Ben as fixtures fostering tap dance.

Like so many other male dancers, May’s career in the female-dominated tap world (some estimates are one to 10) began when he accompanied his cousin to her recital. “I was about 4, and I pointed to the stage and said, ‘I want to do that,’ ” he recalls. He later moved to New York City and “really immersed” himself in tap’s myriad styles. “I teach my kids a little of everything – Broadway, soft-shoe, buck and wing, waltz clog . . .”

Theresa Pietrowski, Christopher’s mother and owner of the Royal Dance Academy, admits she worried her son wouldn’t be considered cool among other guys when he started taking lessons, even though most famous tappers are male. And yet, a couple of boys in his class have asked him to teach them.

Whether they are boys or girls, older or younger – “Tap dancing can be picked up at any age,” she says – Pietrowski encourages her students to attend tap festivals for their inclusive spirit, the chance to take master classes, and see performance and award shows.

Although festivals aren’t new – dozens have been around for 20 years – more festivals spotlighting the American art form have popped up internationally in Brazil, Australia, Tokyo, Vancouver, and Stockholm.

Tap City, the American Tap Dance Foundation’s weeklong festival in New York City, draws participants from across the United States and 15 countries. It’s one of the oldest and more viable, entering its 16th year in July. Tony Waag, a 40-year tap veteran and the foundation’s director, says he sees more producers nationally creating buzz with versatile tap shows. “I just came back from California, and it seemed like there’s a tap dance studio in every little town.”

The tap scene is diversifying, as well. Kat Richter, founder of the Lady Hoofers Tap Ensemble in Philadelphia, formed her all-female company in 2011, partly to give female choreographers a platform. But the ensemble’s dance philosophies don’t always stay faithful to tap tradition: It has featured a barefoot tap show and another in which dancers played plastic milk crates, à la Stomp. Another of Richter’s methods for revitalizing tap in Philadelphia is the company’s weekly Sunday drop-in class.

When Pamela Hetherington noticed the lack of a tap subculture in Philadelphia’s dance world more than 15 years ago, she “started pushing it.”

Eventually, in 2013, Hetherington quit her day job as a publishing editor and founded Take It Away Dance. Her tap troupe not only showcases movement and sound, but collaborates with live vocalists and instrumentalists. Like her spring performance at the Singing Fountain on Passyunk Square, the cross-cultural events often are outside. The vibe is engaging, supportive. “I want the audience to see and hear how tap dance sounds with a cello, a violin, or drums, at the same time someone is singing jazz. These are all parts of its early roots.”

 

Copyright 2016 The Inquirer

By Chelsea Davis
Coos Bay World
January 2, 2015

 

[Coos Bay, Oregon, USA] – — Dance is not just for girls.

Dance Umbrella for South Coast Oregon was recently awarded a $5,000 grant from the Charlotte Martin Foundation, a private, independent foundation that caters to athletics, culture and education endeavors, especially in underserved areas like Coos County, as well as wildlife and habitat protection.

London Boardman, 5, front, a student at Pacific School of Dance (Amanda Loman, The World) 2015With this grant, Pacific School of Dance is launching a tuition-free dance program for boys ages 9-18. The class will meet weekly starting Feb. 3, providing formal training in beginning, intermediate and advanced ballet — “because ballet is the base of all dance,” said Pacific administrative director Pam Chaney — as well as partnering and contemporary dance.

 

“We want to see more boys developed into dance for Ballet Pacific (Dance Umbrella’s student performing company),” Chaney said. “We want to encourage male dancers by offering a free class.”

The class will be taught by Maria Rosman-Allison, a Pacific instructor since 2007 with an extensive dance background. The school also plans to bring in male guest teachers.

Chaney hopes to model the program after the Oregon Ballet Academy‘s free boys program in Eugene, taught by OBA director and former Houston Ballet, New York City Ballet and Joffrey Ballet dancer John Grensback.

Connor Hammond is an up-and-coming local dancer with his sights set on a career in dance (Wee Photos)Pacific has established itself as a successful training grounds for dancers, both female and male. Trevor Miles now has a career in dance and modeling, and Nick Peregrino dances for BalletFleming in Philadelphia and The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in Washington, D.C. One current student, Connor Hammond, “has his eyes on the prize,” Chaney said. He’s already received several offers, attended a summer intensive in Philadelphia and is focused on launching his career in dance after graduation.

“The whole goal here is to raise awareness of boys’ importance to dance,” Chaney said.

Pacific has seen its roster of boys grow over the years. The popularity of TV shows and movies like Step Up and So You Think You Can Dance have been a boost for dance programs, she said. “It shows that dance is a viable athletic endeavor and a way to make a living,” she said.

Dance Umbrella was established in 1994 to support dance education, provide performance opportunities and enrich cultural and arts awareness and appreciation throughout Coos and Curry counties.

 

Sign Up

There are openings for up to 10 young men from ages 9 to 18. Registration is highly recommended by calling 541-269-7163.

The program begins Feb. 3, and will run from 5:30-6:30 p.m. every Tuesday

 

 

© Copyright 2015, Coos Bay World

By Kathleen Mellen
The Daily Hampshire Gazette, Hampshire Life
December 11, 2014

 

Caleb Ballentine, 12, during a ballet class at the Amherst Ballet (Yoshitaka Hamada) 2014-01[Amherst, Massachuets, USA] – Caleb Ballantine is still pretty young — 12 — but he already knows what he wants to do with his life: dance. He’s been dancing since he was just 2 or 3, he reports, when he was moved by music at a wedding. “I loved dance ever since,” the Amherst youngster says. Caleb comes by the passion honestly: His grandmother, Peggy Schwarz, is a professor emeritus of dance at the University of Massachusetts. But, dance isn’t his only means of communication: He’s an actor, a singer and a choreographer. And, oh, yes. He also does gymnastics.

Hampshire Life: Describe the work you are doing now.

Calab Ballantine: The dance techniques I am working on learning currently include hip-hop and ballet. I am in the Electric Boyz, a group of dancers at Pineapple Dance in Amherst that performs throughout the Valley and just had a show last month. I am also studying at Amherst Ballet, where I am focused on strength training, learning new moves and preparing for a spring performance.

H.L.: What were your early influences?

C.B.: I remember my first hip-hop class when I was about 4 years old. A few years later, I saw the musical “Billy Elliot” on Broadway with my grammy, Peggy Schwartz. I watched the dancer’s moves throughout the whole production and decided I wanted to be just like him. I started studying ballet and modern dance at that point in my life and have continued ever since.

Caleb Ballentine, 12, during a ballet class at the Amherst Ballet (Yoshitaka Hamada) 2014-02

HL: What do you think the audience sees when they watch you dance?

C.B. When I dance, the audience experiences a calm and exciting style at the same exact time.

H.L.: What is your creative process like when you are making up your own steps?

C.B.: I usually listen intently to music and my feet and my body start moving to the rhythm of the music, and I just dance. When I start to move, I feel like a bundle of energy inside that leads me to pop, move, bounce and fly throughout the stage, expressing my feelings and thoughts through my body.

H.L.: How do you know you’re on the right track?

C.B.: I know I am on the right track when the moves just come together and my body knows the whole dance or piece I am working on learning or creating.

H.L.: What do you do when you get stuck?

C.B.: I think about the move that comes ahead and try to reach for that movement and keep on going.

Caleb Ballentine, 12, during a ballet class at the Amherst Ballet (Yoshitaka Hamada) 2014-03

H.L.: What did you do recently that relates to your art?

C.B.: Most recently I performed in Pineapple Dance’s show at Amherst Regional High School. I was in two pieces: “If You Crump Stand Up” and “All I Do Is Win.”

H.L.: What are your dreams for your future?

C.B.: My dreams include going to dance school in New York City, performing on Broadway and at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Whenever I go to Jacob’s Pillow the dancing is amazing and it feels like home. I am traveling to Israel in December and plan to visit the Susanne Dahlal Center for Dance in Tel Aviv. I think I was born to dance.

 

 

By Tats Rejante Manahan
The Philippine Daily Inquirer
November 17, 2014

 

Lope Lim in Steps Dance Studio's Pepe's Secret Garden (Steps Dance Studio, Manila) 2012[Manila, Philippines] – In a culture that hails machismo as an asset, in an art form predominantly peopled by females, it is seldom to chance upon young males who declare their intent to pursue dance for the plain and simple reason that they like it.

In recent decades in the Philippines, the average age of males choosing to take up dancing is about 17. In other countries, like the United States, for example, it is not unusual for young boys to take to dance studios at an earlier age like 8 or 9.

Perhaps times, indeed, are a-changing because the male dance population is slowly getting younger. To the dance aficionado, this is good news because it will mean that good male dancers will have longer stage time. In the ballet world and in a more rarified dance form, flamenco, two young men have set their eyes far into the dance world.

At age 10, Lope Lim, on a family vacation in Las Vegas, watched a show that featured a hip-hopping Fil-American masked dance group called the Jabbowokeez, which in 2008 won Best American Dance Crew.

Lope recalls: “The first dancer entered doing a back flip and just started dancing. I remember the feeling he gave me… You know the unexplainable connection to dance. You were with him in that connection. So I went home completely inspired.”

The four months following had Lope dancing to music in his room at least four times a day. ” And it wasn’t necessarily hip-hop or ballet or modern. I was just dancing to the music.”

Finally, he raised up the courage to ask his mother to enrol him in dance class. It must have been around this time that Sofia Zobel-Elizalde, directress of Steps Dance Studio, saw him jump. Her eyes, trained after 20 years of running a dance studio, and many more years spent as a dancer herself, recognized the potential in Lope.

Ironically it wasn’t a hip-hop class he joined but ballet.

It has been five years since Lope stepped into a dance studio. Finishing an intensive summer workshop at the Alvin Ailey Dance Studios in New York, he looks forward to six months training at the Kirov School in Washington, DC, an award given to him as the silver medalist in the Junior Division B in this year’s Asian Grad Prix held in Hongkong.

 

Ballet body

Given his lean physique, Lope is aware it is ballet that suits his body type. ” Ballet likes my body,” he says. He does not, however, inhibit himself from dancing jazz, contemporary and hip hop.

He mulls over his dance preferences, citing the neoclassical style of Hamburg Ballet’s John Neumier, while also attracted to the work of choreographer Ohad Noharin of Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company.

Noharin has developed his own dance style called Gaga, which has a seemingly free-style flowing movement that requires the dancer to be so intimately knowledgeable of his body that the movement it produces stems from an incredible discipline of knowing how far or how tight it can move.

Neumier’s neo-classical pieces are highly intellectual.“The dances they produce are just so versatile and innovative that you can’t help but want to dance for them,” enthuses Lope.

In a recent preview for a competition, the Lope whom I had first seen dancing lyrically at age 10 in a Christmas presentation of Steps Dance Studio, had now grown into a 14-year-old adolescent, lean and handsome of face.

And even this early, he exhibited strength and determination in his dancing. In a neo-Filipino piece, his sharp accents cut the air, his musicality obvious in his phrasing. The assuredness in the precision of his movements, specifically his footwork, showed a mastery of his anatomy on the choreography. It was a breath of fresh air.

 

Purest form

Meanwhile, 22-year-old Russell Wisden has chosen flamenco, particularly Nuevo Flamenco, perhaps the purest form of flamenco, as it almost remains faithful to the original form the Gypsies originated in their wanderings from India to Spain.

Where ballet urges the dancer to use his core to defy gravity, flamenco, with its rhythms and counter-rhythms, requires the dancer to use his core just as strongly, enabling him to execute zapateo (footwork) in rhythmic precision, yet rapidly, and on a downward emphasis.

Russell was 3 and living in Singapore when he would accompany his mother to take his older sister to ballet class.

“From those days, I developed a love for music and rhythm which took me through the multi-disciplines of classical ballet, ballroom, jazz, modern and hip-hop,” he recalls.

In 2009, his mother enrolled him and his two sisters, Rosanna and Rosvera, in a 24-session flamenco program under Cecile de Joya at Fundacion Centro Flamenco.

De Joya, whose patience in teaching beginners the complexities of flamenco is well-known, spotted the talent in the siblings, and in Russell particularly, being the only male in her class.

 

Spanish training

Shortly after, the siblings were sent to Spain, where they spent two months studying flamenco. They go back there regularly “to study the rhythmic patterns, stanzaic form and mode of the various palos (rhythms). It gives us a depth of the feel for the Gitanos ethnicity of Andalusian flamenco,” enthuses Russell.

Flamenco traditionally is only complete with a quadro: the dancer, the guitarist, the singer and the one who claps.

Intrigued by each of these, Russell learned guitar and percussion, and has also started to compose music and even attempts to sing (“medyo kulang pa sa vocal”).

Russell’s innate talent for this dance form and its music has already made him a qualified teacher for dance, guitar and cajon in the flamenco Center, at the Ballet Philippines Studio in SM Aura, Makati Sports Club and Symmetry Dance Studio in Parañaque.

He performs regularly at tablaos with Centro Flamenco and in Singapore, where he is occasionally invited to perform, at times with his sisters.

 

Stereotyping

Being half-British helps in the stereotyping of what a bailaor should look like. To even add to that mystique, Russell keeps his hair long. Lean and tall, he possesses that undefinable quality called duende, which sets apart an ordinary dancer who knows his steps, from a performer who feels his dance. In Russell, the package is complete.

Lope Lim and Russell Wisden are two young men who have had a calling so unlike any other, and both pursue it with a determination and a passion; and for us potential spectators, the better for the refinement of our lives.

© Copyright 2014 Inquirer.net

 

 

 

 

TV shows, athlete participation have more boys dancing
By Jim Haug
The Datona Beach News-Journal
October 28, 2014

 

[Daytona Beach, Florida, USA] – John Zamborsky, 14, a freshman at Spruce Creek High School, dreams of making it big as a dancer in Broadway musicals.“That’s a tough nut to crack, but I feel the sky is the limit,” he said.

A dancer for seven years, Zamborsky said one factor that won’t stop him is any social stigma against boys who dance. “If you are interested, don’t let something like a stereotype or a group of people who like to single out male dancers keep you from doing what you really want to do,” he said.

“Just follow your heart,” Zamborsky said.

Tanner Naronha-Weeks, 11, at his ballet class in South Beach Dance studio (Lola Gomez, News-Journal) 2014Like Zamborsky, Tanner Noronha Weeks, 11, is a dancer at the South Beach Dance Academy in downtown Daytona Beach. He got into dancing when his younger sister, Natara, 10, started taking classes.

Tanner is now in his fifth year of dance. “This is what I love,” he said.

Tap is his favorite form of dance. He has entertained at retirement homes. But he also takes classes in jazz, hip hop, ballet and musical theater. His instructors estimate that he takes about 18 hours of instruction a week for both classes and training for dance competitions.

His mother, Lorriane Noronha, recalled a time when “he didn’t want anyone to know that he did dance. But I believe that we need to make our kids strong inside, proud of what they need to do, and let them pursue what they like.”

One reason that dancing appeals is that boys get to meet girls.“You learn about the opposite gender,” Zamborsky said. “I know I don’t hang out with that many girls at school. Being here is a different atmosphere. It’s a breath of fresh air.”

“Girls can give you advice with girls,” he explained. “They can give you a different perspective, essentially.”

Tanner said the dance school is like one “big family.” The people he has met “have been there for me, even when I have gone through rough times,” Tanner said.

Matthew Mahoney, co-owner of South Beach Dance Academy, 129 N. Palmetto Ave., estimates that 10 percent of the academy’s students are male. “We’ve always had a small group, but this is the most we’ve had,” Mahoney said. “I would say the dance shows on TV, like ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars,” has inspired more men to come in.”

Jerome DeVito, the other co-owner of the South Beach Dance Academy, so-named because it used to be located on South Beach Street, said the participation of so many professional athletes on the popular dance shows has made it easier for boys to take up dance.

Former football stars like Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers and Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys are a few of the athletes who have participated on “Dancing with the Stars.”

“I think the teasing at school is less and less nowadays,” DeVito said.

Dancing also appeals to men as a form of exercise. The school has gotten football players to take dance classes in the offseason, Mahoney said.

“It’s a whole different discipline and structure for boys,” DeVito said. “You’re using all the muscles in your body. It gives the boys twice the amount of coordination.”

Boys can be more business-like about dance than the girls.“For the girls, it’s more of a social thing, they say (to one another) ‘I like that leotard,’” DeVito said. “Guys don’t care about that. They’re here to get strong.”

Dancing is not for wimps. Male ballet dancers, for example, have to wear a dance belt, which is essentially an athletic supporter. “Any guy who is going to do that is serious about dance,” DeVito said. “If you can go on stage in a pair of tights, you’re brave.”

 

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