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Jared Sutton puts ‘best foot forward’ with call-up to Charlotte Ballet
Reach participant first to sign professional contract
Published Thursday, August 23, 2018 9:20 am
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

Jared Sutton is the first participant in Charlotte Ballet’s Reach program to sign a professional contract with the dance troupe.

Jared Sutton personifies the goal of Charlotte Ballet’s Reach program.

At 18 years old, Sutton is the first homegrown dancer to come through the program, officially joining Charlotte Ballet’s Company II on Aug. 28.

“I thought it was always out of reach, until I was about 16,” Sutton said. “Then I thought, ‘maybe if I put my best foot forward today, and every day beyond that, I might be able to do something.’ I grew up watching this amazing company. Not that you didn’t ever think that you could dance alongside them, I never felt discouraged or anything, but I could never see myself doing the works that they were doing, or moving my body in a certain way that they would move.”

Charlotte Ballet Artistic Director Hope Muir, who succeeded Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux last season, did not know of Sutton’s journey from the Naomi Drenan Recreation Center as a Reach student to Charlotte Ballet when she offered him a professional contract.

“The historical part of Jared’s journey, I was unaware of, which actually makes it kind of even more satisfying to hear that his journey started through the Reach scholarship program,” she said. “That’s something that I wasn’t aware of when I offered Jared the position. I had worked with him on a few of the productions throughout the season, and seen his work with the pre-professional division. I was always very impressed about his demeanor and his professional approach to different work, and the fact that he was friends with everyone. He was just a delight to be with in the studio.”

Muir called Sutton into her office one afternoon as he was walking down the hall, which is uncommon for pre-professional division dancers.

“[The students] will wait, and we’ll have her every now and again, but to be asked to come into the office, I was like, ‘if you want me to come into the office,’” Sutton said.
Said Charlotte Ballet Executive Director Doug Singleton: “That doesn’t happen every day. He walked out of the office, and there was this excitement that had happened. I knew what had happened, and it was, ‘he just got a job.’”

Sutton wanted to sign the contract immediately, but Muir suggested that he take a moment to consider his options.

“I wanted to sign the contract on the spot,” Sutton said. “She didn’t let me. She was like, ‘go home. Tell your parents [Denise and Pierre Sutton]. Think about it.’ I said, ‘OK. I will, but I’m ready.’”

Said Muir: “The improvement in Jared over my first year as director was amazing. He was improving every day, and in every rehearsal. I was so proud to see that development, and that’s exactly the sort of dancer that I want in the company—someone who is a quick learner, someone who is curious, someone who has kind of an insatiable appetite for new movement, for new styles, and just for the art in general. That’s what drew me to Jared.”

Born in Oak Park, Michigan, Sutton grew up playing basketball. He attended Northwest School of the Arts in middle school, followed by a year at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, a year at South Mecklenburg High, and E-Learning Academy, which allowed him to pursue his studies online, while dedicating most of his time to his craft.
When his family moved to Charlotte, Denise Sutton began taking classes through Charlotte Ballet. She encouraged him to give it a shot, and eight years later, it’s become his full-time job.

“When she first reached out to Charlotte Ballet, they recommended the Reach program,” Sutton said. “That was the closest to me, and to my home, and it was the most convenient.”

As his first day approaches, Sutton feels more of a sense of excitement than anything else.

“I’m not as nervous as I thought I would be,” said Sutton, who spent the summer at a dance intensive in San Francisco. “It’s still a little unreal, because I didn’t know if I would ever make it to be a professional dancer, let alone to be a professional dancer in my place of choosing, and get to still be home, basically. After graduation, now I can just focus on dance completely. I can choose to do online college courses if I want to, but I can really put everything toward dance.”

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Congratulations Jared! I love your humility.
Posted on August 24, 2018

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