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All the Right Moves: Ailey’s Robert Battle comes home to give back

(WSVN) - The famous Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is performing at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in South Florida. The company’s artistic director grew up in Miami. and while he’s in town, he is taking time to step off the stage and into the classroom. 7’s Craig Stevens shows us how he’s making “All the Right Moves.”

New York City may be where he lives, but Miami will forever be home for Robert Battle, the artistic director for the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.

Robert Battle: “Yeah, I grew up in Liberty City, 11th Avenue and 55th Street.”

Battle says, because of his love of the arts, other kids picked on him, so his family kept him busy. He was a Boy Scout and learned karate.

Robert Battle: “I studied martial arts because I was bullied as a kid who sang soprano, played classical music and wanted to dance. Go figure. I was bullied a lot.”

But he took dance classes for more than just kicks. He soon discovered he had a gift.

Robert Battle: “When I first started dancing, even when I was just imitating other dancers, that’s where I felt the most free, the most expressive, the most myself.”

His teachers at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center remember his energy and his spirit.

Marshall Davis, director, African Heritage Cultural Arts Center: “You know you could tell he was a student that was absorbed in what he was doing, and his heart and his absorption just kind of emanated from him.”

They knew he’d make it big, so they made sure to teach him the importance of coming home and teaching what he has learned.

Eulyce Eason, Battle’s former dance teacher: “Now we have, like, Robert Battle and all the others that are showing the way. They’re showing that this can really happen for you. All you have to do is do and follow your dreams.”

And Battle is helping students follow their dreams. While in Miami, he looks forward to spending time on smaller stages like the one at the Seed School, South Florida’s only public, college prep boarding school.

The students showed off their talents and then got some one-on-one time.

Student: “Have you ever had anyone discourage you?”

He knows every answer is his chance to show a student that hard work pays off.

Robert Battle: “Just the image of somebody saying, ‘I came from where you come from or where you are, and here I am, coming back to say you can make it.'”

While the company dancers practice for the South Florida show, Battle knows it takes heart and home to make all the right moves.

Robert Battle: “I’m returning so that I continue to do great things. I’m returning because it’s like food for me.”

Tickets are still available for this weekend’s performances.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater