Ann Arborite Gregory George
When it is pointed out that the city's best-known dancer, U-M professor Peter Sparling, had to close his company in 2008, George emphasizes that his group will have a much lower overhead. "I want to weave my way into the community with respect and collaboration," he says, noting the competitive nature of local fund-raising. "I'm starting with about six dancers. I don't want to grow too fast too big and step on too many toes." He plans to draw dancers from the University of Michigan and other dance companies for larger productions and hopes to mount his first show by this summer.
"Greg's work speaks for itself," says Michael Chan, one of the company's four board members. "Funding is scarce, but there are performing arts aficionados out there that are willing to support him."
At a recent class for his adult dancers in a rented studio space on Plaza Drive, George cues up music by Fiona Apple--not your typical ballet score. He takes the all-female group through a graceful, traditional barre warm-up, then switches the music to a rollicking upbeat tempo played at nightclub volume. Demonstrating quick, contemporary ballet footwork, he conveys both playfulness and seriousness as he leads the students through several vignettes of advanced moves. "Isn't that fun?" he says with a big smile.
[Originally published in March, 2010.]