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The Voice of the Black Community

Arts and Entertainment

Ballerina on dance: It’s a metaphor for life
DTOH’s Fentroy at Northwest School of Arts
Published Wednesday, December 9, 2015 5:01 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Dance Theater of Harlem dancer Chrystyn Fentroy leads a master class at Northwest School of the Arts.
















Spot up to stay up.

Students at Northwest School of the Arts spent a class with Dance Theater of Harlem dancer Chyrstyn Fentroy. Ballet is more than dance, she told them. It’s a metaphor for life.

"If you spot down, you're going to fall down," she told a student as the class worked on turns.

Through a multi-event collaboration, Blumenthal Performing Arts, the Harvey B. Gantt Center, and Wells Fargo present a five-month exhibition on DTOH’s history at the Gantt Center and five company performances at Knight Theater from January 22-24. Additionally, the collaboration reaches into the Charlotte community through master classes with dancers like Fentroy.

“Today was really fun,” said NWSA junior Shainyce Jones. “It really opened up my view to ballet and how it’s not just strict and you have to suck in everything. It was more about letting loose today, and I enjoyed that a lot. I wasn’t thinking of the steps—I was just thinking of performing and showing my human side.”  

Said Chandra McCloud, a NWSA high-middle ballet, contemporary, and modern dance teacher: “I always say that it is about the quality, not the quantity, because there’s something personal that you can bring to the stage, to the class, to the bare, when you’re determined and it’s coming from within. A lot of times, we’re put into dance classes by our moms and dads, especially moms, and they’re pushing us, but until it comes from within, that’s when the quality and the artistry begin. It’s not just about technique. It’s about showing the artistry as well.”   

Fentroy, who did not begin to seriously pursue dance until her later teen years, encouraged students not to get discouraged.

“I’ve been dancing since I was 2,” said Fentroy. “Both of my parents were dancers, but I didn’t take it seriously at all until I was like 17, and I was terrible. I went to my first summer intensive when I was 18, and that’s when I decided that I wanted pursue ballet full-time as a career.”  

Studies have shown that holding one's chin parallel to the floor or above improves overall disposition, particularly confidence. High school and middle school represents a stressful time. From balancing physical and emotional changes to college and potential career concerns, dreams often get pushed to the side for fields that pays financial dividends. However, that childhood dream can still become a reality if those sights are set high.  

"Be a person," Fentroy said. "It's attractive. You need to be willing to be vulnerable and show who you really are on stage."

Said Alyce Vallejo, an NWSA high school ballet teacher: “She told us her story of how she started dancing later in life. I feel like for a lot of (students) their training hasn’t gotten more serious until more recently—they’re probably 15, 16, maybe 17 years old. Seeing where you can get in a short amount of time if you actually really apply yourself, and if you decide that this is what you want, it can happen for you.”   


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