DANCE ‣ Dancer of the Month - August 2022, Leonard Perez
We are so thrilled to be featuring another dancer for the August edition of our Dancer of the Month series. This month we would like to introduce you to Leonard Perez of Collage Dance Collective!
Leonard Perez, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, has trained in Spanish dance with the Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater and in ballet and modern dance at the Ruth Page School of Dance. He has studied on scholarship at Northeastern Illinois University and has been awarded full scholarships to summer intensive programs at Dance Theater of Harlem, The Ailey School, River North Dance Chicago, Thodos Dance Chicago, Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, and The Ruth Page School of Dance. He danced with Milwaukee Ballet II during the 2015–2016 season and has performed works by Ron de Jesus, Michael Pink, Septime Webre, Randy Duncan, Ruth Page, Lee Wei Chao, Ilya Kozadayev, Brian MacDonald, Victor Alexander and Spanish dance duo Angel Rojas and Carlos Rodriguez. Leonard has performed in the Chicago Dancing Festival, Jacob’s Pillow International Inside/Out Dance Festival, Dance for Life Chicago, and St. Louis’ Spring To Dance Festival. He has also danced professionally with Dayton Ballet where he performed works by Gina Patterson and Jiri Kylian and Indianapolis Ballet where he performed works by Joshua Bergasse and George Balanchine.
Leonard is currently starting his fourth season with Collage Dance Collective and his third school year teaching at their partner conservatory, Collage Dance Conservatory. Leonard is very excited as the new season is upon us. They have just begun working on the repertoire they will be performing soon which will include Balanchine’s Prodigal Son and Nacho Duato’s Gnawa.
Leonard received a lot of support from family and friends as he progressed through his career as a professional dancer. Having a dance career is very taxing both mentally and physically, therefore having a solid support system is important. “I’ve had tremendous support from my parents and many other people around me that have supported me and my dreams. My parents didn’t always understand what it meant to be a professional dancer but they were just happy to know that I was pursuing something that I loved.”
Throughout one’s dance career, we have seen how routines can change as a dance grows and develops. Leonard says that his routine has also evolved over the years according to his resources and what his body and mind need at any given time. His career has taken him on many adventures which his routine must adapt to. He expresses great content over his current routine as it provides him with a balance between his dance career and his life outside the studios. “For example, I now make more time to build community and have a life outside of dance. Before I was so devoted to my career that I wasn’t making time to rest properly or even see the world.”
This balance also is seen in how Leonard cross trains. “Since the beginning of my training and career I’ve always liked to include things into my exercise routine that would complement dance/ballet. I’ve always loved Yoga and Pilates. They both keep physically and mentally strong. I actually started with Ballroom dance and Spanish dance before I even started dancing ballet so I’ve always valued how well rounded my dance journey has been.” You can see how a variety of movement styles has helped him in his career and become a diverse dancer.
His tips for other dancers and athletes is to, “Take your art/craft and your body seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously.”
If you would like to support Leonard by attending an upcoming performance or checking out their website, we have attached a link below:
They will be performing their first full program of the season Master Works the weekend of October 14-16 at Playhouse in Memphis, Tennessee.