Leap for the stage

E. Cort Larsen

Cort Larsen is a professional dancer with Sierra Nevada Ballet. Recently, the 16-year-old choreographed his own ballet.

Cort Larsen is a professional dancer with Sierra Nevada Ballet. Recently, the 16-year-old choreographed his own ballet.

Dreams of the stage have forever danced in E. Cort Larson’s head. Since age 3, he’s wanted nothing more than to perform on Broadway, so at age 8, he began musical theater. Five years later, he took up jazz dancing and ballet to better his repertoire. After one arduous season of playing a Jet in West Side Story, competing in team jazz and hip-hop and dancing with Sierra Nevada Ballet, he (and his mother) realized all three were too much, and he decided to focus on ballet.

“It was one of the most stressful times of my life,” says the limber 16-year-old. “Ballet fit my body better, as well. I like the structure of ballet more than jazz.” Thus began the six-days-a-week dancing career of the youngest professional Sierra Nevada Ballet company member.

Larson was promoted from apprentice to company dancer last September. He has plans to audition for the Sacramento Ballet when he graduates from Carson High in two years. He is also thinking of auditioning for the Stuttgart Ballet in Germany, where he plans to take classes next Christmas or spring break.

“They treat their dancers so much better in Europe,” says Larson. But his dream company is the San Francisco Ballet.

“They’re perfect,” he says with a far-off look in his eyes. Larson also mentions that the company happens to pay well and keeps its dancers healthy and happy, which, apparently, is unusual in the United States.

“The San Francisco Ballet is very artistic, unlike many dance companies, which are like ‘watch how many pirouettes I can do! And how high I can jump!’ I completely agree with Vladimir Malakov who said, ‘Dance is about quality, not quantity.'”

Difficulty for the sake of difficulty aside, Larson doesn’t shy away from pushing his dancers when he is choreographer.

Slave Dance, which debuted July 19 at Wingfield Amphitheater, was Larson’s first professional choreographed piece. It won the Young Choreogra-pher’s Award this year from Sierra Nevada Ballet.

The mesmerizing dance, set to Mideastern music, reveals Larson’s preference for Neo-Classical ballet, which he defines as “more open-ended than strictly classical.” It’s a form he hopes to showcase someday in his own large ballet company (of undecided location). He says he finds choreography most rewarding when he’s working from the inspiration of music and the dancers’ abilities.

The Carson City native will compete in the Youth America Grand Prix in February 2006 with the first round held in Long Beach, Calif.

Larson’s performances, choreography and discussions about ballet reveal a spark that is crucial to excelling at any creative endeavor. The trailblazers of the dance world are always marked by a passion for movement and music beyond what can be taught. Although Larson only has been dancing for three years, he has more than enough fervor and talent to sustain him wherever his feet carry him.