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Students express themselves through movement in Interlochen's Dance program

The dance program at Interlochen Center for the Arts is classical ballet-based, with alumni going on to professional careers in dance companies, Broadway, and as choreographers.

The dance program at Interlochen Center for the Arts is classical ballet-based, with alumni going on to professional careers in dance companies, Broadway, and as choreographers.

There are more than 40 students in the dance program. They come from more than half a dozen countries across the world.

"The program is quite intense here," said Joseph Morrissey, the dance department director. "The students are very passionate about what they do. They show a lot of enthusiasm for dance. This is the kind of program for go-getters, for those students that are wanting the extra push, the extra challenge. A lot of them are coming from all over the world so they have high expectations of us as teachers and therefore we have high expectations of them as students."

One of those international students is Jonatan Myhrejorgensen who comes all the way from Denmark, and spent time training with the Royal Danish Ballet school.

"Jonathan brings not only, of course, his Danish heritage and cultural personal background, he also brings a unique schooling and is able to contribute to that unique schooling to the classroom and for other students to see that we don't often see here," explained Morrissey.

"Dance for me is amazing," said Myhrejorgensen, "because I can release a lot of energy. I've performed and other art forms before for example like singing and I would get very nervous and I'd shake, but when I dance, I'm always nervous before I go onstage. When I go onstage, there's that energy of moving your body that feels totally different and that's amazing."

The students are primarily trained in classical ballet, but they also dabble in jazz, swing, and choreography. So what do they love the most?

"Right now, I think contemporary because there's so many new things to explore, but I would never give up ballet," confessed Myhrejorgensen.

A select group of students this year has the unique opportunity to perform alongside the New York Philharmonic. Jonatan is one of them.

"It's so subjective when you're grading to make sure that it's really about the holistic, the whole dancer, not just 'well this person has nice pirouettes and this person doesn't have great this or that.' And we look at the overall general how are they immersing themselves and how are they demonstrating their love for dance and their willingness to go that extra step further," said Morrissey.

As an instructor, Morrissey says working side-by-side with the students has been very rewarding.

"It's been a truly rewarding experience to work side-by-side with the students here at Interlochen because they each bring their own valuable contributions and it's been amazing to see, since September when we started, the progress and improvement not only in technical capabilities, but also with their confidence."

The New York Philharmonic performance will take place June 5. Closer to home, there's also a senior dance concert coming up on March 17-8. A Spring performance will take place in May.

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