I met Maxwell and his parents at Dance For Life Chicago and thought he’d be a great interview for 4dancers. Learn more about him here…
1. Tell me a bit about your background in ballet.
I took my first ballet class when I was four – in my neighborhood – a way for an overactive kid to burn off some energy. I did that until the “boy taking ballet” teasing kicked-in, and then I switched to Jazz. I concentrated on Jazz for a few years and ended up at Giordano Dance where a very wise teacher explained the importance of ballet. I have had a love-hate relationship with ballet ever since! Studying with many great Chicago Ballet teachers – Lizzie MacKenzie, Laura Wade, Homer Bryant, Claire Bataille, Mike Gosney, Peff Modelski, Fury Gold, I also concentrated on summer programs that were strong in ballet – Milwaukee Ballet, Haird Conservatory, San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and The Juilliard School.
2. What are you currently doing?
I am pursuing a BFA in Dance at NYU – Tisch School of the Arts – in my second year of a three- year program.
3. Can you share some of the best advice you have received from a teacher/mentor?
I feel so blessed to have a great support system from my family, friends and teachers. It has been eye opening, as I expand my dance universe, not everyone has it. It has made me appreciate ALL the support that I have. The very best advice that I have received is, “There are things in store for you that you can not even dream of. Just let it unfold.”
4. What is the thing you enjoy most about being a dancer?
When I am able to give-in and experience true release – allowing the music, movement and environment to consume not only the audience but the performers. I love being attuned to my own body and soul; dancing is an expression of my whole self.
5. What has been the high point of your career so far?
I was very honored to be selected as a United States Presidential Scholar in the Arts in 2011, proving to myself that I was on the right path. During the Washington DC ceremonies it was very inspiring to be at the Teacher’s Recognition Dinner with Extensions Dance Company’s Lizzie MacKenzie and to be able to perform in the “Salute of the U.S. Presidential Scholars” Show at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Also, it was a HUGE high point to have performed in Dance for Life Chicago – 2010’s Harrison McEldowney’s “I’ve Got a Life”, Randy Duncan’s 2011 “Stand By Me” and as a guest artist with River North Chicago performing in Sherry Zunker’s “Evolution of a Dream”.
6. Can you tell us about any challenges you face and what you do to overcome them? My biggest challenge is dealing with self-evaluation – learning to not be too critical of myself. To learn to not be your own worse emeny. To learn to love myself. To allow myself to have less than a perfect day. It’s a work in progress. I am learning to appreciate the fact that some of my biggest disappointments have turned into my biggest growth spurts.
7. What does your warm up consist of before a performance?
I center myself using breathing and meditation techniques as well as core strengthening and stretching; and listening to a wide variety of music helps me get in the zone.
8. Is there an item in your dance bag that you can’t live without?
My RED medicine ball – it is an essential. I use it to roll out my hamstrings, quads, lower back, etc.
9. What is your favorite part about dance class?
My favorite part is usually the Grand Allegro but it really depends on the teacher and the class – a great reason to take classes from a wide variety of instructors. I always enjoy classes with Lizzie MacKenzie, Harrison McEldowney and Becca Lemme, just to name a few. Recently I attended a two-day workshop led by Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet Company -Artist Director Benoit-Swan Pouffer and Ballet Master Alexandra Damiani. They were fabulous classes.
10. What is next for you?
This summer I will be studying in Salzburg, Austria, at the Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance. I am so excited to explore new territories.
BIO: Maxwell Parr Perkins is pursuing his BFA in Dance at NYU – Tisch School of the Arts. Along with his NYU studies, he has performed as a guest artist with MADboots/NY, Nodes Performing Arts Dance Company/NY and was a winter apprentice with Sidra Bell Dance/NY. He is an U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts – 2011. Born and raised in Chicago, Maxwell enjoyed all that the Chicago dance community has to offer studying with many great teachers. He was a company member of Extensions Dance Company, performed as a guest artist with Elements Contemporary Ballet Company and River North Dance Chicago – where he was an apprentice for two summers. Maxwell will be studying at Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance, Salzburg, Austria summer 2013.