Andrew Carr, 40, has been dancing his whole life.He started lessons at 5 years old, having worn his parents down after several years of asking. “They thought it would be a phase and that I’d grow out of it,” Carr said.They were wrong.“I am now in my 35th year of dancing in ‘The Nutcracker,’” Carr said. “I showed them.”It has not always been easy to pursue his love of dancing, but his commitment never wavered. At 14, he was told he did not have the coordination or the flexibility to make a career out of dance. In high school, he was the only boy in Richland, Wash., who danced ballet, leading to – as he puts it – “all sorts of interesting social pressures at school.”But dance was “a raw passion,” and he stuck with it.At 18, Carr moved with his family to Washington, D.C., and auditioned for the Washington Ballet, where he was accepted for their young dancers program, allowing him to rehearse with the premier company and take lessons free. Two months into his apprenticeship, a dancer with the main company blew out his knee, and Carr was asked to fill his shoes (or ballet slippers, as the case may be) on a day’s notice. For Carr, who had begun taking courses in computer science and physics, the opportunity proved life-changing.“To do Fernand Nault’s ‘Carmina Burana’ on the Kennedy Center Stage to a standing ovation was incredible,” Carr recalls. The Washington Ballet then hired Carr to dance in “The Nutcracker,” and he has not looked back. “I was actually getting paid to dance,” Carr says, and he remembers thinking, “I can do this.”Carr is still dancing professionally, but his true passion is teaching dance. He said he enjoys igniting passion in others, “living vicariously through seeing others love dance and achieve.”Carr said he especially enjoys teaching at Open Door Studios in Plaza Midwood, because he appreciates the studio’s philosophy of “letting anybody take classes.” He has been teaching for more than 20 years and has seen some of his students succeed in all aspects of dance. But his main goal is to inspire them to pursue their passion, even if it isn’t dance.With undergraduate degrees in mathematics and dance from Indiana University (which he attended on a scholarship while working as an apprentice in the Chitakwah Dance Company), Carr moved to Charlotte in 2006 to pursue post-doctoral studies in genomics at UNC Charlotte. He now works as the director of bioinformatics (the computational study of genomics, genetics and biology) for Accelerated Technology Laboratories.Despite his full-time job, Carr, who lives in Cabarrus County, manages to teach seven days per week (his classes include group and private lessons in conditioning, ballet, point work and contemporary) and perform with dance companies in Charlotte and nationwide.“As a scientist, I bring a different and unique perspective to dance,” Carr says. He focuses on proper technique and injury prevention as a way of making dance accessible to everyone.Carr feels he has found a good balance in his life but acknowledges it sometimes is hard for others to reconcile his two careers.“I’m out of sync in both worlds,” he says. “I’m an artist in the science world and a scientist in the dance world – and both look at me funny.”
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013
Two worlds: His passions are dance and science
Journey started at the early age of 5
Learn more: For information about classes Andrew Carr teaches or to inquire about private lessons, visit Open Door Studios, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 704-817-9281; or visit Gaston Dance Theater, email email@example.com or call 704-865-5943.