When Landon Harris auditioned for NGB’s ballet summer intensive in Denver, Colo. last month, he immediately knew he wanted to train with Peter Stark, NGB’s artistic director.
“I liked all of his corrections and the way he put the class together,” said Landon, 14, of Denver.
At the time, Landon was looking into a full-time ballet program for the fall. But his plans soon changed. He and his family decided to pack up and move to Tampa so Landon could begin his training with Stark right away.
Landon joins the Patel Conservatory this week as a NGB New Artist. He’ll perform along with NGB dancers this Friday in On the Edge and in May in Swan Lake.
“We knew we’d be leaving with him sooner or later for his training. We thought in the fall. We just pulled our time frame up a little,” laughs Bev Harris, Landon’s mother, who’s been busy this week looking for a place to live in Tampa.
Landon’s mom and twin brother, Ashton will live here while dad George, a financial business consultant, will commute from Denver whenever possible to spend time with the family.
Bev is accustomed to following her son across the country in pursuit of his dreams. Last year, Landon was part of the cast of the Broadway tour of Billy Elliot. In fact, he first heard about the Patel Conservatory when he was here at the Straz with the show last year.
“Touring was a great experience. I got to work with a Broadway company, with Tony Award winning actors and actresses,” said Landon, who played one of the boxing students and a ballet student. “It made me more professional...and more comfortable on stage.”
Landon began dancing when he was three years old with the Academy of the Colorado Ballet. In 2009, he began studying at the National Ballet Academy of Denver. He's performed in numerous productions with the Colorado Ballet, including The Nutcracker, Midsummer Night's Dream and in Swan Lake.
He recently placed 1st in Contemporary and 2nd in Classical in the junior division of the the Youth America Grand Prix regionals in Denver. He will compete at the finals in New York City in April.
He also performs with Silhouettes, a professional dance company in which dancers perform “in shadow” behind a screen. His position with NGB will be his first full-time ballet program.
“Yesterday was my first full day, and I’m feeling it,” he said. “It’s a lot of hands-on training. It’s constant, but it’s what I love.”
“For Landon, the tougher it is, the better it is,” said Bev.
An avid skier and snowboarder who tackles the toughest trails and moguls, Landon loves a challenge.
“I like the difficulty and challenge [of ballet]. You have to make it flow but also be masculine and strong,” he said. “You’re always working, you never really master it.”