By Kathryn Moore
When Victoria Brooks, junior English creative writing major, convinced Nick Fleming, sophomore ministries and missions major, to help her out in a local ballet company’s performance of “The Nutcracker” they both discovered a renewed passion for dance.
Fleming and Brooks come from different arts backgrounds.
Brooks, who trained in classic ballet in her hometown of Tallahassee, Fla., began taking classes in Aug. 2012 at the Pat Brown School of Dancing in Jackson.
She then auditioned for the Senior Company of Ballet Arts, Inc., Jackson’s local ballet company, and began rehearsals for “The Nutcracker.”
“I missed my senior year because of an injury where I cracked two bones in my back, so I knew I wanted another chance to perform roles I had missed out on,” Brooks said. “I kind of roped Nick into dancing with me, because we needed more guys.”
Fleming, originally from Cleveland, Tenn., attended the Chattanooga Center for Creative Arts, a high school emphasizing dance, theater, music and the visual arts.
He trained in dance, theater and music lessons during the school day and spent anywhere from four to eight hours rehearsing in his studio every night of the week.
Fleming said all that time rehearsing paid off — he is now comfortable with ballet, jazz, tap, modern , musical theater and hip-hop .
“When I came to Union, I thought I was giving up dance forever,” Fleming said. “I knew I could get back into theater and music, but Union didn’t offer dance opportunities. That’s why I was so excited to dance in ‘The Nutcracker’ when Victoria asked me.”
In “The Nutcracker,” which ran in December 2012 at the Carl Perkins Civic Center, the pair played the roles of dancing parents in Act I and danced together again as the Spanish chocolates in Act II.
Additionally, Brooks performed as one of two featured dancers in the Land of Snow scene and also as one of the waltzing flowers.
Fleming and Brooks said they spent many hours rehearsing for the performance.
“In addition to our regular classes, we’d have rehearsals during the week and on the weekends,” Brooks said. “The closer to the show it was, the more intense the rehearsal schedule was, too. We danced every day for a while.”
Dancing every day meant rearranging schedules and social priorities.
“I had to learn how to say no to a lot of things and a lot of people,” Fleming said. “The Lord really provided for us, though, because our professors were so understanding of our crazy schedule(s).”
Both Brooks and Fleming are continuing in their passion for dance this semester.
Brooks is taking classes with Pat Brown and is a choreographer for Zeta Tau Alpha’s Variety Show entry.
She hopes to perform in “The Nutcracker” again in the fall.
Fleming will study with Brown again and is considering participating in Lambda Chi Alpha’s Variety Show entry.
He wants to continue performing with Ballet Arts.
“Dance has always been one of my biggest passions,” Fleming said. “I wasn’t going to quit because someone told me I wasn’t good or made fun of me for being a guy (who) dances. I want to continue pursuing my passions for as long as I can.”