Final Brown Bag series event celebrates art of ballet dancing

Dancers from the Roxey Ballet Company performed last week during the final installment of the Thursday Brown Bag series. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Editor)

By Kelly Weber
Correspondent

The Thursday Brown Bag series ended on a high note, as members of the Roxey Ballet Company came to the College to perform last week at the Mildred and Ernest E. Mayo Concert Hall.

Before a crowd of about 30 people, the Roxey Ballet Company performed four dances from “The Nutcracker,” interspersed with personal anecdotes from founder Mark Roxey about his life growing up as a young dancer in the urban Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in New York City.

“When I was three years old, I started dancing around the house,” Roxey said. “I loved to dance. It was very natural to me.”

After his public school in Brooklyn offered an exchange program with a premier dance school, Roxey began formal ballet training. After a stint with the street dancing group Fresh Festival, during which he danced in performances and music videos with artists such as Run-DMC and Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, Roxey was accepted to the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School, where he joined the traveling company.

The four ballet dances sharing the stage with his personal story included a performance of the “Cavalier Pas de Deux” from “The Nutcracker,” performed by company dancers Julia Cobble and Giovanni Ravelo.

During the next dance, the “Snow Pas de Deux,” also from “The Nutcracker,” company dancer Jillian Mitchell slipped while attempting to be lifted by partner Sergio Alvarez. After the short performance was over, Roxey explained to the audience that Mitchell “wasn’t able to place her feet into the ground” and, as a result, “did not have enough torque” to complete the lift properly.

Near the end of the performance, Roxey described a plaque that hangs in the main lobby of Roxey Ballet Company’s headquarters, Mill Ballet School, stating the company is “dedicated to Ryan.” Ryan was a childhood friend of Roxey’s who “ended his life

violently because of depression because he didn’t have a way to express those feelings and emotions … He didn’t have a community.”

Roxey explained how this experience profoundly affected his life and profession.

“Our art is given to us so we can share it, and we have to share it in a way that brings communities together,” he said. “I bring dance to places where dance doesn’t exist.”