by Lenise Willis

As an advocate for artistic diversity, it’s no surprise that Artistic Motion School of the Arts, a performing arts studio that teaches pre-professional and recreational dance, is expanding its horizons with a full-length theatre production, as well as a cultural exchange program.

“We try not to raise just a dancer, but also a whole person – a true artist,” Natalya Davison, executive director, told Yes! Weekly shortly after launching the school’s new Artistic Motion Preparatory Academy (AMPA) last September.

With that ideology in mind, the company is constantly looking for new ways to enhance its dancers’ lessons. Part of that enrichment now includes a cultural exchange with the Dominican Republic, as well as a full-length dramatic production.

On Friday, for one-night only, select dancers from the school will perform in Batten Down the Hatchlings, a play based on a Native American tale. The play is written by Greensboro playwright Scott Icenhower and under the direction of Katie Jo Icenhower.

“Our first dramatic production is a direct result of the continued interest, support and growth of our students and families,” Davison said. “We are excited that our first full-length dramatic production represents the work of a local playwright and provides a unique performance opportunity for all of our creative drama students.”

Next on the studio’s list is a production of Esmeralda, a dance production based on The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which will include the performance of two guest dancers from the Dominican Republic. Engels Josè Mendez, 18, will perform the role of Pheobus; and Juan Alexis Abreu, 22, will perform the role of Acteon.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our school and our community,” Davison said. “I am so excited to provide this experience for our students, as well as the students from the Dominican Republic. As a school, we strive to expand the vision and the cultural awareness of ourselves and our community.”

Both dancers are in the final level of the National School of Dance of the Dominican Republic (ENDANZA) and have been dancing for three years as apprentices of the National Ballet of the Dominican Republic. They will also be performing in a contemporary dance in the studio’s spring show.

The cultural exchange is thanks to Alejandra Dore, director of AMPA and former soloist of the National Ballet Company of the Dominican Republic, who recognizes the benefit of international influences.

“Being a teacher and performer of ballet in different countries, with different cultures, has enriched me so that I am able to incorporate a broader view of how to teach and manage students at all levels in this discipline,” Dore said. “This experience has enabled me to help them understand that despite cultural differences, ballet is a universal language.”

Artistic Motion opened in 2000 and instructs kids and adults in several recreational classes, including ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary dance and even yoga, ballroom dance, martial arts and theatre movement. Its preparatory academy (AMPA) is a pre-professional ballettraining program modeled after Vaganova training, a Armenian technique.

The studio has a diverse staff, including alumni from Russia’s Moscow State University of Dramatic Art, and instructors who have danced professionally with the Bolshoi Ballet, the National Ballet of the Dominican Republic, the National Ballet of Armenia and Joffrey Ballet. !


Batten Down the Hatchlings runs Friday at 7 p.m. at the Greensboro Day School’s Sloan Theatre, 5401 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro. Tickets are $5 at the door. Artistic Motion and the guest dancers will perform Esmeralda May 30 at 6 p.m. and May 31 at 2 p.m. also at the Sloan Theatre.