ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — Middle and high school students at the Metropolitan School of the Arts balance on their toes during rehearsal and balance their school work and studying every other hour of the day. While MTS’s studio teaches hundreds of students, its academy of about 30 splits the day in half between schoolwork and rehearsal.
Dance Chair and Artistic Director Jacqueline Doherty says having school and rehearsal all in one place is easier on the students, especially because their instructors understand their workload better than anyone. “It’s nice to be able to balance because we really know both sides of their life: academically and dance.”
They’re lucky to have an award-winning ballet and modern dance instructor to guide them through it all. Roger Jeffrey’s choreography recently came in second place at the world’s largest non-profit international student ballet competition, called the Youth America Grand Prix. The Julliard grad has been dancing since he was 12-years-old. Jeffrey says dance “directs love into positive energy.”
“[The dancers] know how to work in difficult situations; meaning when you’re tired, when you’re not as interested, when you like the teacher, when you don’t like the teacher, when your feet hurt when it’s raining outside…to kind of show up and be responsible.
“I consider myself a ‘community development worker,'” Jeffrey continued. “Once I step into the studio with dancers I try to develop the community in which we’re working with.”
MSA dancer Emma Meeks says Jeffrey has helped her with her confidence.
“He’s very good at being direct and giving you what you need to hear without sugar-coating it, but it doesn’t feel like criticism,” Meeks said. “It’s so constructive that you can start building quicker.”
“I think people should do what they love,” Jeffrey said. “I’m happy to be with these kids, who are doing what they love, and I’m happy to support.”