Natchez dance company formed

Published 12:02am Sunday, June 19, 2011

NATCHEZ — Mignon Reid is seeing to it that the most physical of artistic expression – dance — has a permanent place in Natchez.

The newly formed Natchez Dance Theatre will be the first dance company in Natchez and will also be the nonprofit arm of the Natchez Ballet Academy.

Reid said the mission of the Natchez Dance Theatre is to provoke interest in classical ballet and dance as theater art, provide quality training, offer dancers an opportunity to perform regularly and provide the Miss-Lou with programs of the highest artistic quality.

“Dance is the most beautiful representation of art I can think of,” Reid said. “Dance is physical and emotional, and I think there is nothing as powerful as dance.”

Natchez Dance Theatre will also bring demonstrations to local schools, award scholarships to dancers who need financial assistance and host a professional workshop for dancers in the Miss-Lou, called the summer intensive.

The first summer intensive of Natchez Dance Theatre will be June 26 through July 2 at the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center. Young professionals will be teaching students ballet, pointe, modern and jazz dance.

Reid is thrilled to have the guest dancers working with Natchez Dance Theatre students.

“They bring a professional dance quality to Natchez,” Reid said. “And they also bring a technical knowledge that you won’t get locally.”

Guest instructor Mai Okubu, with the Florida Dance Theatre, teaches ballet, pointe and variation classes at several dance academies.

Also from the Florida Dance Theatre are Steven Rhodes Jeudy and Sarah Oepen. Jeudy has been trained in ballet, jazz and African dance. Oepen is a ballet, tap and jazz instructor in Florida, has performed with many different dance companies and currently works as a parade and show performer for Walt Disney World Entertainment.

Guest instructor Anthony Neumann is a classically trained dancer and has worked with legendary dancers throughout the U.S. He currently performs and teaches with Arkansas Festival Ballet, Tupelo Ballet and numerous schools.

Dance fundamentals will not be taught at the summer intensive, so Reid said applicants must have at least one year of dance training.

“It’s for students who are seriously interested,” Reid said. “Students will have real dance-world experience right here in Natchez.”

Placement classes for the intensive will be June 26. A non-refundable $40 deposit will be applied to tuition. Full tuition is due the first day of classes.

A performance by the professionals and students will be 10:30 a.m. Saturday, July 2 at the Margret Martin Performing Arts Center. The public is welcome.

“The performance will be a showcase for the students and guest teachers to perform,” Reid said.

To print a registration form, go to www.natchezballet.com. Applications should be returned to the dance studio at Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center. For more information, call 601-870-8920.