CLEVELAND — In one year, Reflections Dance Theater has became a nationally recognized dance group with powerhouse performances and Cleveland origins. Group leader Nehemiah Spencer is more than happy to speak about how his journey led him to start the award-winning company.
"From the Cleveland School of the Arts, I went on to train at the Juilliard school in New York, where I attended on a full ride scholarship," Spencer said. "I got to train in so many different styles, from ballet, jazz, African, tap.
"That experience made me want to work more with the people that I knew back home, so I put all that knowledge into a package and tried to make sure that I brought something that was presentable and fun and exciting for the dancers here."
Within its first year of operation, Spencer, a Glenville native, decided to enter his dancers into a big-time competition, How Sweet the Sound 2022.
"Something told me to apply, not just for myself, but just for our city," he said. "How Sweet the Sound has been going on for decades. Originally, they judged gospel choirs, big choirs and small choirs, but this was the first year that they invited dance into the categories, and there were dance groups from Houston, they were from new Orleans and Los Angeles, so all these big soulful great places."
Spencer says Reflections wanted their piece to not just reflect their skill, but also their passion for Cleveland issues.
"We dove right in and we tried to present something that was a true reflection of the community," he explained. "The dance showcase, different things like poverty and homelessness and abuse and self doubt and different things that we all experience in everyday lives. The outcome can still be beautiful, so that's what we wanted to present."
When it was all over, Reflections placed No. 1 in the dance competition.
"With that opportunity, it allowed us to kind of see more of what we wanted to do with the greater good of the reason for why we did the piece," Spencer said, "which was to share lighting on our community."
Moving forward, Spencer tells us he hopes Reflections will focus on community service projects like food banks and food drives.
"Anything that can help serve our community on a greater level," he stated. "You know, we want to really feed the soul and the need of our community."
Reflections Dance Theater is always accepting new and inspiring artists and collaborations. You can find more information here or email email@example.com.