ART BEAT: Gwinnett Ballet summer intensive reunites teacher, student


Dancer, choreographer and teacher Bennyroyce Royon will be Gwinnett Ballet’s guest instructor for advanced students June 16 to 20. (Special Photo: Devlin Shand)

When Gwinnett Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive season begins on June 2, young dancers of all levels will have many opportunities to learn from talented instructors. Intermediate and advanced dancers will enjoy the annual visit from GBT alumnus Robert Dekkers of Diablo Ballet and his own company, “Post Ballet,” in San Francisco the week of June 9 to 13.

However, it is the next week, June 16 to 20 that will see a reunion of two artists with a wonderful history. Bennyroyce Royon, a nationally known choreographer, dancer and teacher, will be teaching summer intensive at GBT, whose artistic director, Wade Walthall, was Royon’s first teacher.

Born in Laguna, Philippines, Royon was raised in Auburn, Wash., and began taking dance from Walthall at Evergreen City Ballet just outside Seattle, beginning at the age of 15.

“I could see that Benny was immediately talented and dedicated,” Walthall said. “He worked hard from the first day to help himself to develop and learn. His passion and willingness was always obvious.”

The admiration is mutual. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Wade Walthall,” Royon said. “He instilled in me the values of rigor, perseverance, and passion for dance.”

The rigor, perseverance and passion served Royon well. His credits include graduating from the Julliard School, performing with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company among numerous others, and he was one of the original members of Rasta Thomas’ “Bad Boys of Dance.”

As a choreographer, he has created work for Joffrey Academy of Dance, The Julliard School, Columbia Ballet Collaborative, Harvard Ballet Company and his alma mater, Evergreen City Ballet, among many others, including the well-reviewed “FLUX” for the Atlanta Ballet in May 2013.

His teaching has carried him around the globe as well. His own unique fusion of ballet, modern and contemporary dance has taken him to Montreal, New York, Seattle, and even to Norway. Now he will be coming to Atlanta again to visit his original teacher’s home.

His GBT students will learn much from Royon. “Dance is an art form of navigating through life in motion,” he said. “Each step, gesture, and move paves the way to a journey of self discovery. Teaching is not just passing on what I’ve learned and experienced throughout my career but an opportunity for me to continue learning. You can learn so much from teaching.”

Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., Royon has appeared on PBS’s “Great Performances,” “Good Morning America” and in numerous music videos. He also appeared in the documentary dance film “Never Stand Still.” Visit his YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/bennyroyce, his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bennyroyce, and his website at www.bennyroyce.com.

GBT also offers Summer Dance Camps for ages 4 to 6 and Beginner Ballet starting at age 7 as well as intermediate and advanced intensives. Call 770-237-0046 to register for Royon’s intensive and all other programs or go to www.gwinnettballet.org.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.