By Rebecca Burton
As the curtains rise for Ryerson Dances on Nov. 23, fourth-year dancer Roney Lewis takes his final leap on stage.
“It’s exciting and nerve-wracking. I want to do so much but once it’s over it’s over,” he says.
Lewis is no stranger to the bright lights of the Ryerson Theatre. This marks the fourth year he’ll be performing in Ryerson Dances.
The show is set to run from Nov. 23 to 27 and is an opportunity for third and fourth year dancers to collaborate with professional choreographers. Students go through an audition process at the beginning of the year and are hand picked by a panel of choreographers.
“Dance in general is very competitive. There are more opportunities for male dancers because of the ratio. But the ones that are hungry for it will succeed no matter what — girl or guy.”
The first time Lewis was in the show he was given an “after hours” audition.
“We did an across the floor movement. It was nerve-racking and I thought, ‘clearly I won’t be in the show.’”
But one of the choreographers gave Lewis a chance. He would rush from class straight to rehearsals surrounded by third and fourth-year dancers he described as “beautiful, great dancers.”
“It’s fun but scary. You’re always on edge because you don’t know what’s going on but you just enter with the best attitude. Being in it definitely matured me,” he said.
Now in his element as a fourth -year, Lewis will be appearing in two pieces. It will be his fourth time dancing for choreographer Vicky St. Denis.
“I love her. It’s not a secret,” he says of St. Denis.
The piece explores the good times but also the dark underbelly of her experiences in Havana, Cuba where she spent four years teaching.
With another choreographer featured this year — Robert Glumback, Lewis was able to explore his masculinity.
“He commands the space. He has so much power. That’s what I like about male dancers.”
Lewis said he relates with male teachers better.
Lewis isn’t shy to say, “this year tops a lot of years.”
With only a semester left he said his biggest improvement has been learning to accept all forms of criticism. And Lewis wants to continue his journey after graduation.
“I know for sure I want to do everything. Sing, dance, act. Being in this place you get to be creative. I have never been the type to just do one thing and that’s it.”
Photo: Chloe Kerzner