Young Dancers Virtual Workshop Opens Doors to Higher Education and Creative Careers

October 7, 2021 – For the second year, the Young Dancer Workshop of North Central Florida is going virtual. On Friday, Oct. 29, 2021, approximately 200 young dancers, ages 11 and up from throughout Florida, will take classes, perform, and learn about higher education and dance career opportunities from New York City Master Artists as well as from faculty members and dance students at Santa Fe College (SF) and the University of Florida (UF). The whole event will take place on the Zoom Internet platform, with main events streaming from the Jackson N. Sasser Fine Arts Hall at SF’s Northwest Campus.

“The heartbeat of this workshop is the bridge that connects 11-year-old dance hopefuls to dance professionals in New York City as well as to dancers and instructors at SF and UF,” explained Melissa Brenner, the Dance faculty member in Santa Fe College’s Fine Arts Department who is coordinating the workshop. “In addition to taking classes, the young dancers will attend a brown bag lunch with conversations about dance education and careers. A virtual showcase will feature live-streamed and recorded performances.”

Young dancers will choose from six classes offered in ballet, contemporary, and contemporary African diasporic dance. Instructors include Master Artists Sarah Lane and Nathaniel Hunt, both from New York City.

Hunt will visit Gainesville the last week in September to set a work with the SF dancers that will premiere at the workshop. A Master Artist in Residence with Diversity of Dance at SF in 2016, Hunt has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Long Island University-Brooklyn. He trained with the Joffrey Ballet and has been a member of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet.

Lane was a Master Artist in Residence at SF in 2019, when she performed the lead role in Alberto Alonso’s “Carmen Suite.” She joined the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in 2003 and was ABT’s Principal Dancer from 2017 to 2020. Lane was the dancing double for Natalie Portman in Fox Searchlight Pictures’ feature film, “Black Swan.”

“Because this is a virtual event, there will be no public performances this year,” Brenner said. “We wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to highlight the importance of academic training for dance careers such as directing, choreographing, teaching, dancing professionally, running workshops, having your own dance company, and being arts advocates. The workshop is a major recruiting event for our dance programs, where students learn to think critically and creatively and we encourage them to follow their dreams.”

The Young Dancers Workshop of North Central Florida is a collaboration between the Dance programs at Santa Fe College and the University of Florida. For more information, call Brenner at 352-395-4188.