By Taurean Maray Barber
The first time I saw the Broadway musical “A Chorus Line,” I knew I wanted to be a professional dancer. I wanted to be Richie! That professional dance dream became a reality this month when I was offered and accepted a job to perform in Japan in the Broadway musical tour of “Dreamgirls.” My first big audition in New York City, and I book an International Tour. That’s insanely exciting!
As a native of Jackson, Georgia, I participated heavily in gymnastics and cheerleading. I also began my formal training in ballet, tap, and jazz further developing my passion for dance and choreography. After college, I decided to board a bus and head to Washington, DC to receive the technical training that would elevate me to become a professional dancer.
I visited many dance schools in the DMV area, searching for a place where I could receive a structured and challenging education in various styles of dance. In 2009, I found myself at Joy of Motion Dance Center. While an aspiring jazz dancer, I fell in love with ballet after meeting instructor Tammy Hurt. Quickly becoming my mentor, she was the Debbie Allen to my Leroy from Fame! Tammy was professional, thorough, engaging, motivating, and TOUGH! Most of all, she was the first teacher that made me feel like a professional dancer in training.
I immediately applied to be a JOMDC theater workstudy and became a regular in classes including Ballet with Tammy Hurt, Jazz and Street Jazz with Maurice Johnson, Horton Modern technique with Elena Anderson, and Broadway Jazz with Douglas Yeuell. Joy of Motion Dance Center is my home and has presented me with many opportunities. As a theater workstudy, I assist in the production of amazing shows and performances in exchange for free dance classes and production training. More importantly, I found teachers and classes that gave me the confidence and the skills I needed to compete and book a job in New York.
Moving to DC to further my dance training has proven to be the right step. Last year, I was fortunate to spend a season as a company apprentice with Dissonance Dance Theatre Contemporary Ballet Company. Shawn Short, Founder and Artistic Director, strengthened my technique to compliment the foundation that I received at Joy of Motion Dance Center. My artistry has grown tremendously from this experience and upon return from Japan, I look forward to returning to the new season as a Principle Dancer with the Company.
I have had the opportunity to perform at numerous local events including Velocity DC Dance Festival and INTERSECTIONS. Outside of DC, I have been a featured dancer in many diverse settings from the prestigious New York Fashion Week to New Year’s Day Celebration in England. This past March, I was awarded the 2012 W.A.T.C.H. Award for Outstanding Choreography in “The Color Purple” and appeared on the cover of the Washington Post’s Sunday Arts section. I have also performed in numerous musicals such as Dreamgirls, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Chicago (2011 W.A.T.C.H. Nomination for Outstanding Cameo as Fred Casey), and last year I was able to fulfill another dream when I played Richie in” A Chorus Line.”
I am deeply grateful to all of the teachers and students at Joy of Motion Dance Center that have helped me achieve this success. I am so excited to tour Japan in “Dreamgirls!” No matter where I am in the world, Joy of Motion Dance Center will always be my home and the place where my journey to becoming a professional dancer began!
Inspired by Taurean’s story? Share your thoughts with a comment and try one of his favorite adult drop-in classes at JOMDC.