Jorge Arceo, principal dancer with The Tallahassee Ballet, moves through and is moved by music. In his own musical collection, he listens to a little of everything but is particularly enamored with jazz and R& B.
Arceo says that with jazz, it’s the trumpet and piano solos that catch his ear, while he’s touched more personally by the beautiful voices of rhythm and blues singers.
Though he doesn’t choreograph to these tunes, he used to compose routines to Latin tracks back in his Zumba teaching days at Gold’s Gym. Influenced by his Cuban roots and ballet training, Arceo says that these various infusions of different musical styles and movements all coalesce in his body. Regardless of genre, he always enjoys these intersections in the two art forms, making one of his favorite events of the season The Tallahassee Ballet’s annual Evening of Music & Dance performance, which will take place on Sept. 8 and 10.
“I love working with live music,” says Arceo. “It’s just different to hear music playing right there next to you.
To be on the stage and have musicians play for you is like the climax, and I love it.”
As a young dancer in Havana, Cuba, Arceo looked up to music and dance icon Michael Jackson, and confesses he would have jumped at the chance to don a white suit and join the “Smooth Criminal” music video set. As for his other heroes, he cites Mikhail Baryshnikov and Carlos Acosta as his two favorite professional ballet dancers because of the impact they left on the field.
“They’re great artists and I would always look up to them growing up,” says Arceo. “In their time they took ballet to another level, and it wasn’t just the speed that they made on jumps and turns. When they got onstage it was their presence, and that’s what got my eyes on both of them.”
That same artistry and expression are what propelled Arceo into The National Ballet School of Cuba in spite of doubts that his “tight” body would challenge his ability to succeed in ballet.
Starting his training at age 9, Arceo never imagined where dance could take him when he first attended Escuela Provincial de Ballet and was mentored by Cuban dancer Narciso Medina. By age 19 was called upon to join his dream company, Contemporary Dance of Cuba.
The company toured in Italy, Hungary, Germany, and England, as well as in the United States. Arceo moved up the ranks and in three years was promoted to the position of soloist. From there, he auditioned and performed with the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, Las Vegas’ Rio Hotel show “ND’S FUEGO,” the Pasadena Dance Theater, the City of Angels Ballet, and the California Riverside Ballet, before settling in Tallahassee where he now calls The Tallahassee Ballet his “one big family” and home.
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