Fifteen-year old Jesse Newman is glad that his mother forced him to take a summer dance intensive at the National Dance Institute when he was 12 years old.
“I liked dance from the first class,” Newman said. “It’s now the biggest part of my life.”
Newman began his dance studies with Jefferson Baum, who specializes in teaching ballet. When Baum left NDI several years ago to start teaching at the School of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Newman followed him.
“I could see right away that Jesse has tons of potential and could really do something in dance,” Baum said. “While I have worked with Jesse in ballet, he’s also taken jazz and modern classes at the School of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. To be a ballet dancer in today’s world, you have to be able to do it all.”
Newman, who is completing his sophomore year in high school, has been accepted at North Carolina School of the Arts in the fall. His performance in the School of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s Spring Recital on Saturday at the Lensic Performing Arts Center is his final performance here before leaving town. He heads to Massachusetts in June as a scholarship student at the Boston Ballet’s summer intensive. Then it’s on to North Carolina. “I’m already packed and ready to go,” Newman said.
During the recital, Newman will perform a pas de deux choreographed by Baum. His dance partner is Serena Ingram, who is also 15 years old and heading off to begin her career in dance.
Ingram started taking dance lessons in California when she was 3 years old and began training at the School of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet at the age of 8. This fall she will move to New York City to study with Francois Perron at the French Académie of Ballet.
“I feel connected to the way that Francois Perron works, which is why I want to study with him,” Ingram said. “I’ve grown up in Santa Fe and worked with all the teachers at the School of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet since I was 8, so I’m really going to miss everyone.”
Newman and Ingram are two of many young dancers who have trained at the School of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet before pursuing professional careers in dance. The school’s director, Gisela Genschow, supports the choices that Newman and Ingram have made to study at two of the top dance schools in the country.
“Fifteen is a good age to go to a bigger dance school,” she said. “Jesse and Serena will get to take more dance classes than they can here in Santa Fe and work with some of the most advanced dance students around the country who are in their age group. The competition they will face will help them grow and become better dancers.”
Newman and Ingram are among more than 150 young dancers performing in the spring recital. The school’s teachers have choreographed new pieces representing the work their students have been doing in jazz, modern and ballet.
Children who are part of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet Folklórico also participate in the show. Operating throughout the school year, this free after-school program is available to students at Ramirez Thomas, Cesar Chavez, Pinon and Sweeney elementary schools as well as Ortiz Middle School. The program, which is taught in English and Spanish, teaches the culture, arts and crafts and music of Mexico along with its traditional dances.