Xavier DeMar, a Broad Ripple High School junior, and Riley Moyand, from Naperville (Ill.) Central High School, mirror “the dream” span of the 53 participants in the third annual Summer Intensive at the Jordan Academy of Dance at Butler University.
DeMar is working towards a career in dance, “hopefully with Alonzo King. It was a dream come true meeting him when the company danced at Clowes. It happened because of Mr. Attaway.” (Larry Attaway is director of JAD.)
“I chose Shortridge Middle School because I wanted to dance. Kenyetta Brasher, my dance teacher at Shortridge, recommended JAD. It’s been good for me because I’m training in a variety of styles.”
“The coaches at Broad Ripple are always trying to get me to go out for basketball but it’s not possible. I’m at school from 7 in the morning until 2, then here [JAD] from 3 until 9.”
DeMar has been training at JAD for the past five years and auditioned for and has been accepted into each of JAD’s Summer Intensives.
Moyand is exploring his potential and career opportunities. “I’d like to get a dance scholarship to Butler.” While he’s not sure he “can go that far,” (a performance career), he’s open to the myriad of other options in dance, from teaching to working with a company in technical or administrative capacities that he feels is available with Butler’s liberal arts education.
Both DeMar and Moyand recognize how hard it is for a male in our society to choose to dance.
“I’d tell anyone, there are so many benefits to you with dance — for athletics, socialization, school work — dance improves your memory, motor skills, how you present yourself,” declared Moyand. “You can’t judge a person by looking at him as a dancer. It takes as much on-going dedication [as being in sports].”
For DeMar it’s having pride in self and working toward a positive goal. “I’m five years into my serious dance education. It’s not easy. Dance, like athletics, takes a toll on your body. I’d say dance is harder than sports because dance requires even more multitasking. But if this [dance] really is what you want, go for it. Nothing can stop you.”
Both come from families where dance and music are part of everyday life. For DeMar it’s been African drumming and dancing since toddler-hood. Moyand says he was “born into dance.” His parents own a studio, where he has been training since age 2. Moyand has been able to make time for baseball as a team sport and “golf for fun.”
DeMar reflected on his total Summer Intensive experience. “For the first, my goal was to get better. Now it’s more to find my style. I’m learning what makes me look good on stage.”
“My parents thought it would be good for me to audition for this program,” offered Moyand. “It’s what Xavier said about learning a variety of dance styles, and also getting the individual attention to improve technical skills. The teachers here work with you to help you open up.”
For both, the five-week on-campus residential Intensive has been “a constant discovery to not only being a good dancer, but to becoming a good person.”
All of the above is precisely what Nataly North-Lowder wants participants “to get out of” JAD’s Summer Intensive. As director, she’s been building an increasingly prestigious roster of guest artists onto a solid base of JAD’s regular faculty.
“Snaring Petrus Bosman” as this year’s “star” teacher, choreographer and dance historian is her most exciting coup.
Bosman, who recently retired from a 17-year tenure as artistic director of the Virginia School of the Arts, had a prestigious 18-year career with the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden under the direction of Sir Frederick Ashton. Following retirement as a performer, Bosman traveled the world as a teacher, choreographer and repetiteur, mounting both his new works and classics on a variety of companies before building the Virginia school as one of the destination places for serious dancers to train.
“But I must say, being here [JAD] is most exciting, very satisfying. The kids are so wide open. It’s so easy to go in there and give [my ideas] to them. I’m very inspired,” enthused Bosman. “The kids come because they want it. And the faculty here is so together. That attitude brushes off on the kids.”
“I not only asked him to choreograph three works for the public performance, but to share with the students during three special lectures his experiences, especially working with Ashton, Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn,” explained North-Lowder, who originally trained under Bosman.
“No one had ever asked me to reflect on my experiences, and I thought, why not,” retorted Bosman, who immediately launched into a story. “Over dinner one evening I asked Ashton, ‘What makes Margot special?’ He described a dress rehearsal of Sleeping Beauty when she was an emerging artist. He asked her to come in costume and makeup just like a real performance, but to wear street shoes, not her dance shoes.
“Ashton simply walked her through the performance, constantly asking, ‘Where are you going to look?’ at each moment. She was focusing on the audience. He taught her to look at the back row. There was movement in her body as in a conversation. She was alive every moment, in contact with the audience.
“What makes Margot special is what I try to tell kids — push today to get the technique and the choreography so as to be free for the character to come from the inside. When performing for an audience you have to put your soul into it. It’s the most intimate conversation without a word.”
“I tell dancers they need to feel the audience is peeking through the keyhole into their souls,” explained North-Lowder.
“My motto is quality, excitement and sheer joy in the theater,” summarized Bowden. “A dancer’s performance life is so short. You have to be committed early and get the best out of the years you have.”
“Petrus and I have not been in a studio together for a long time. This is exciting to me,” stated North-Lowder. “And it’s turning out to be a bonus for the kids and the other faculty. Ordinarily, we work alone — we choreograph and then we teach the patterns we want. In this case, Petrus and I are a team. I interpret what Petrus is trying to tell them. He has a pattern in mind. Sometimes they don’t get it right away so I reinforce.”
“As a result, Nataly spends the entire rehearsal on her feet, [demonstrating] while I get to sit and watch,” quipped Bosman.
“Only because I feel I can read his mind,” retorted North-Lowder. “I know from a look [from Bosman] if what the dancers are doing is right or wrong and I can correct them.”
“It’s a positive experience for kids. When they hear it from two different directions it sticks better,” explained Bosman.
“I’ve already asked Petrus to come back next year.”
“I’ve already accepted.”
The public programs are the highlight coming at the end of the Intensive. Students aged 11 to 18 will be showcased in Bosman’s choreography for the Pas De Deux from La Fille Mal Gardee, excerpts from Napoli, and Pachabel’s Canon along with works by guest artists and regular JAD faculty members.
The other 2007 guest artists are Bud Kerwin, Butler University professor emeritus and artistic director of Columbus Ballet; Michelle Merrel, principal dancer with Miami City Ballet; and Derek Reid, who serves with Butler University, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Les Grandes Ballets Canadiens and Ballet Met.
Public performances, fully costumed under the direction of Nataly North-Lauder and lighted by Laura Glover, are in Lilly Hall, Studio Theatre 310 on the Butler campus, Thursday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m. and Friday, July 27 at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $10. Call 317-940-9536 to reserve.