06/19/13 — Ballerinas experience professional side of dance

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Ballerinas experience professional side of dance

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on June 19, 2013 1:46 PM

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Josh Grant instructs Shelby Ashford during the Apprentice Dance Camp at the Goldsboro School of Ballet. The students are learning choreography for their fall fundraiser.

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Josh Grant, left, and Chris Montoya watch students at the Goldsboro School of Ballet perform the choreography they taught them. Grant performs with Pacific Northwest Ballet. Montoya is with Cornish College of the Arts and Seattle Dance Project.

While shopping at the grocery store with his mother, Joshua Grant would waltz up and down the aisles, frequently throwing in some fancy jumps.

His mother would always tell him, "No pdb." The 10-year-old quickly learned that it meant no public display of ballet.

"So I don't pdb anymore," Joshua said.

The 30-year-old is now a member of Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle.

He and fellow dancer, Christopher Montoya, are in Goldsboro teaching summer ballet and jazz classes at Goldsboro School of Ballet as guest artists.

"We invited them to come and share with us the professional side of ballet," said Mary Franklin, co-director of Goldsboro School of Ballet. "We like to expose our girls to different styles of dance.

"You have to be a chameleon as a dancer. That's super important for our dancers to understand. It's also nice to see what they can do under somebody they don't know teaching them."

Jasmine Jahad likes learning choreography from Grant and Montoya because they do teach a different style.

"They told us we need to use resistance and massage the floor when we point our toe," the 12-year-old said. "They also said we need to use our heads with our arms and shoulders."

Jasmine also learned from the guest artists that you can't be distracted by anything when dancing.

"We can't play with our hair or skirt or pick our nose," she said. "Joshua said the girls in 'Swan Lake' have to stand in one place for 45 minutes, and if they move for anything, the whole ballet is messed up. I cannot picture myself doing that. I'm very impatient."

Brianne Cregan, 11, said Grant and Montoya are stricter then her usual dance teachers.

"If it's not perfect, they make us do it again," she said. "It was good exposure to different teachers."

The thing 10-year-old Anna Clymer will remember the most about the dance camp is that she can't just go through the movements when dancing.

"You have to use your muscles and concentrate on what you're doing," she said.

Grant grew up in a ballet family. His mother was a dancer as is his aunt, Peggy Wingate, co-owner of Goldsboro School of Ballet. He started taking ballet classes at ag 3, and went to Harid Conservatory when he was 15.

After graduating at 17, Grant moved to Seattle and danced with Pacific Northwest Ballet for four years, and also danced with the National Ballet of Canada in Toronto for a couple of years before joining Balles Trockadero in New York and touring the world for five years.

But he tired of touring the world and went back to Pacific Northwest Ballet, where he's been for the past two years.

Montoya grew up in a small town in Arizona, but moved to Phoenix and started dancing at age 10.

The very first ballet Montoya ever saw, George Balanchine's "Serenade," got him hooked.

"It moved me emotionally, and it was like a fairy tale," he said. "It lit a fire under my butt and I wanted to do that, too."

He graduated high school from Metro Arts Performing Arts School and went to the University of Phoenix for two years, training under former dancers with Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Montoya also danced with the Gus Giorando Jazz Dance Chicago for a year, David Taylor ballet in Denver, Colo., and a few small dance companies in Arizona before joining Balles Trockadero, where he met Grant.

The two dancers are teaching the students ballet and classical jazz mixed with some contemporary jazz.

"The girls are learning how to count differently while listening to the music so they can dance to the music instead of letting the music push them around," Grant said. "They say the best people that work in jobs are people who were trained as dancers as kids because they learn how to absorb information quickly, can take critiques without going into a corner and crying, know how to adapt and are quick learners.

"It teaches them respect and discipline. Whether or not they become dancers, what they're learning here is teaching them for life."