Keeping It Positive: Mixing Education and Entertainment



CHARLOTTE, NC: Lollipops and double dutch? You’ll find events with them right here in Charlotte this weekend. Mary C. Curtis previews the cultural happenings around town!

Charlotte’s African American community ‘Steps Up’ for young dancers

What started as a challenge for Jordan Leeper became an opportunity for Kobi Kennedy Brinson and the North Carolina Dance Theatre. The promising young dancer was coming to the end of the first year of his apprenticeship and running out of resources. Leeper’s parents, in his hometown of Jamestown, N.Y., had already helped out as much as they could, adding to the scholarship he earned to train in San Francisco, where he completed his senior year of high school, before he auditioned for North Carolina Dance Theatre (NCDT).

That’s when president and artistic director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux talked with Brinson, who had become an active fan and friend to the company. “Surely this community can support this dancer,” she remembered saying to him. “We can’t afford to lose African American dancers because of money.” The assistance Leeper received filled the gap until he was offered a place in the company.

Luckily it didn’t end there.

Keeping It Positive: No Cultural Hibernation!

CHARLOTTE, NC: There’s no hitting the snooze button here in Charlotte. Winter is prime time for great cultural events. Mary Curtis has the rundown on three exhibitions you’ll want to visit.

Amanda Smith dances into history

Amanda Smith, 22, always knew that she loved to dance — to music, to TV shows, in grocery stores, everywhere — when she was a young girl growing up in Orange County, Calif. When she was 12, she got serious. That’s when she decided, she said, “I want to do this as a profession. … This had my heart.” She swept her computer analyst mother and accountant dad (“very analytical people”) into her dream and overcame their misgivings about the entertainment world, particularly classical ballet, the slice that still lacks many prominent role models for African American women.