Debbie Allen’s ‘Brothers of the Knight’ tour stops in Charlotte

07/17/2014 11:29 AM

07/17/2014 12:28 PM

Most dancers don’t picture themselves training with Emmy-winning choreographer Debbie Allen until their careers are established.

But for a group of Charlotte-area young people, this dream is coming early.

The revival tour of Allen’s musical “Brothers of the Knight” opens at Ovens Auditorium Thursday, the last stop on the five-city tour. Allen cast dancers, ages 5-20, from each tour city.

Chloe Allen, 11, of Charlotte; Bailey Greemon, 11, of Fort Mill, S.C.; Phillip Johnson, 17, of Charlotte; Brianna Navarro, 13, of Davenport, Fla.; Kyle Sloan, 11, of Charlotte; and Lauren Pearson, 18 of Charlotte, are principal cast members in the musical adaption of The Brothers Grimm’s “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.” In Allen’s version, there are 12 brothers living in Harlem, instead of princesses.

She also picked 40 others from the area to be a part of the show’s ensemble cast only in Charlotte.

“Part of this (tour) also is to get the communities involved with what we do,” said Norm Nixon, executive producer and Allen’s husband. “It’s our small way of trying to just become the catalyst to initiate the conversations and highlight the importance of arts education in schools.”

For Pearson, 18, this will not be the last time she’ll work with Debbie Allen. The Northwest School of the Arts alumna has plans to move to Los Angeles in mid-September, just in time to audition for another one of Allen’s shows. She will train with Allen’s dance academy and go from there.

“It’s helped me to gain that passion for dance back,” Pearson said. “Now that I’m on tour, I’ve realized what I’ve been missing.”

Sloan, a rising sixth-grader at Carmel Christian School, taught himself how to hip-hop dance by watching Michael Jackson videos about a year ago. Now, the 11-year-old has learned how to cook, how to wash his own clothes and, most importantly, about different styles of dance during the tour.

“It’s just really amazing to me how I used to look and think ‘Wow, those are such big achievements, they feel so far (away),’ ” Sloan said. “To actually do it, it’s just amazing.”

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