Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kezia Rolle Has a Wall of Honor for Students Who Have Gone on to College or Are Working Dancers; It's Not Easy, but a Scholarship Is Possible If They Keep Up Their ... DANCE STUDIES

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kezia Rolle Has a Wall of Honor for Students Who Have Gone on to College or Are Working Dancers; It's Not Easy, but a Scholarship Is Possible If They Keep Up Their ... DANCE STUDIES

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

In a hallway at the Jacksonville Centre for the Arts, 23 plaques hang on the wall honoring former students who have received dance scholarships to attend college or are working as professional dancers.

Among them are David Freeland, who dances with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and appears in a new music video by Beyonce; Amy McClendon, who performs as the Peacock Goddess in the Cirque du Soleil "Amaluna" touring company; and Landes Dixon, a member of the repertory ensemble at Steps on Broadway, a prestigious New York dance school.

With five more students heading off to college next fall to study dance, Kezia Rolle expects to add more plaques to that wall soon.

Rolle is the executive director and founder of the Jacksonville Centre of the Arts, a comprehensive dance school that teaches ballet, tap, modern, jazz, hip-hop and West African dance as well as tumbling and stretching and conditioning.

A 1988 graduate of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and 1992 graduate of Jacksonville University, Rolle spent 18 months as a singer and dancer at Busch Gardens and four years performing at Disney World.

Then she moved back to Jacksonville to open a dance studio, first on the Northside, then in Springfield. In 2010, she moved her center into The Performers Academy on Beach Boulevard near the Spring Park neighborhood, where she shares space with an acting school, a music school, a recording studio and several other programs.

One of the students who will study dance at college next year is Amanda Severson, who has been accepted by dance programs at Florida State University, the University of South Florida and the New World School of the Arts.

Her father, Ed Severson, said his daughter started studying dance at a different school before deciding to switch to the center.

"That was one of the wisest decisions we ever made," he said. "When she came here she was jut a little kid with stars in her eyes. ... She's going to walk out with a realistic chance at a professional career."

In a classroom full of the most advanced students - the 102 students at the center are divided into five levels - instructor Curtis Williams, a Douglas Anderson graduate who spent nine years with the Florida Ballet, ran the students through a vigorous series of dance movements.

One of those students, David Emanuel, is a musical theater student at Douglas Anderson. …

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