Alex Durrant’s entrée en ballet

 

Photo by Itzel Contreras Mendez

Photo by Itzel Contreras Mendez

New WCC dance lecturer Alex Durrant grew up in Tattenhall, a farming village in England about 200 miles northwest of London. His mother was a dance instructor, and from the age of 3, he would join his mother at her ballet studio.

It wasn’t until he was more aware of himself that he realized he had the physical ability to accomplish intricate dance moves. He started enjoying ballet and noticed that it instilled in him discipline and drive.

He began his formal dance schooling at the Royal Ballet School (RBS). He looks back on those days bittersweetly.

“It was wonderful because the training was amazing, and it was terrible because some of their discipline methods are perhaps considered abusive these days,” he said.

After RBS, he continued his studies at Elmhurst School for Dance, where he trained in modern dance, musical theater, tap and drama. He then moved to The Hammond School and finished in ballet and contemporary dance.

During this time, he took the Solo Seal exam, which certified him to be a soloist in a ballet company.

 

Durrant rehearses for the ballet Giselle – Courtesy of Alex Durrant

Durrant rehearses for the ballet Giselle – Courtesy of Alex Durrant

Career

His first job was with Rambert Dance Company in England and Adventures in Motion Pictures, which produced Swan Lake. His first musical was Beauty and the Beast, which he performed for about a year.

He has also danced in the musical Cats where he played three different roles: Mistoffelees, which was more in a ballet style; Bill Bailey, which was more tumbling, acrobatics and gymnastics; and Mungojerry, which involved a tumbling duet. Along with his extensive roles in Cats, he was also part of the musicals The Fantasticks, Peter Pan and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

 

England to Hawai‘i

It all started when the opportunity of a lifetime popped up. WCC theatre instructor Nicolas Logue was searching for an instructor with abundant professional experience and a teaching background to lead the college’s new dance program.

As Durrant was already contemplating the idea of becoming an educator, he was ecstatic about the opportunity. But he was also very torn. If he took the job in Hawai‘i, it meant he would be leaving a whole life behind.

However, it was the unconditional support from people he was close to that gave him the strength to make such a life-changing decision.

He said, “This sort of opportunity you don’t know whether it’s going to come up again. You don’t know how long it’s going to last. They were like, ‘You gotta go and have this experience while you can.”

 

Teaching Philosophy

Durrant believes that the best lessons he learned is how not to teach. He looks back on when he was a student and the mistakes made by some of his instructors.

“They break you down,” he said. “They make you feel terrible, so you would want to get better. It doesn’t work, so many people dropped out.”

Thus, he wants to make it clear to his students that they are his number one priority. His focus is to show through his actions that they have his support, his positive energy during classes and that he cares for them.

He understands that at times students may feel discouraged but he wants to remind them that he himself was a student at one point.

So his advice for his students is to remember that he is on their side and dedicated to helping them achieve their goals. As he points out, “I’ve never had a student fail and that was one of the biggest points of pride for me. I have 100 percent pass rate.”

 

Mantra in Life

When asked about his approach to life, Durrant says, “Work hard and do the right thing.”

As he elaborates, “It is so easy to not do your best because sometimes when you are not doing your best, you are still doing good enough, right? But if you are not doing your best, you are not stretching yourself.”

For him, making the move to Hawai‘i was difficult because he had to uproot his life. But he also saw that it would open the door to many new and exciting opportunities.

 

by Itzel Contreras Mendez, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter