Meeting a Familiar Dancer: Chidozie Nzerem

13 Apr

At San Francisco Ballet’s Program Seven opener April 12 I almost ran into Chidozie Nzerem, a former corps de ballet member who also had the distinction of having started his  career in dance through the Dance Education Outreach Program at San Francisco Ballet School.  He moved into the regular classes at the School, becoming a company apprentice in 1995 and a regular member of the company in 1996.

Paul Parish described him as a classical dancer on a heroic scale, and I can remember how his deportment in classical repertoire was invariably noble.  He was so imbued with his training that it took a while for him to loosen up for the special qualities of Val Caniparoli’s Lamberena.  but when he got used to fusing  his training to African movement, he was exciting to watch.

It’s hard to believe he left the San Francisco Ballet some six years ago, first to travel before coming back and appearing in outside gigs.  Then he disappeared from view until Rita Felciano showed me a picture from a European dance periodical where he looked every inch a leading male dancer in the Dusseldorf- based Deutsche Ballett au Rhein.

Chidozie’s reason for being in the audience was based on the death of his mother in mid-March.  I asked him how long he had been in Dusseldorf and he said “five years.”  A further question or two elicited the information that when he started auditioning for companies, “I got six offers, one of them from Monte Carlo.  But I settled on Dusseldorf, and now I am learning Germany.  It was a good choice.”

Despite the sad reason for his presence at the Opera House, I could only think, “Lucky Dusseldorf.”

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