Broadway dance star kicks off Apogee boot camp

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Members of the 2016 Intensive Week boot camp at Apogee Dance Academy in Southington pose with Broadway star Marissa Perry, who played Tracy Turnblad in “Hairspray.”

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

Apogee Dance Academy enjoyed the company of many noteworthy individuals during their “2016 Intensive Week,” a boot camp to kick off the year for local dancers.

Each year, the academy opens the season with different guests to teach the students in the teens and seniors group (ages 12-16). The boot camp is designed to prepare the dancers for their placement auditions.

The group won a national championship and is “well versed in various styles of dance, including ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary hip-hop, and music theatre,” said studio Director Alex Puglisi. The studio, founded in May 2014, is only in its third year and has already grown to 104 enrolled dancers, hailing from 18 cities and towns throughout the state.

On Monday, Aug. 22, Apogee welcomed Marissa Perry, one of five people on this earth that played the role of Tracy Turnblad in “Hairspray” on Broadway.  Perry, cast at age 22, was the last full-time Tracy hire.  She was also in the Broadway cast of “Sister Act” as one of the nuns, a slightly less intense job than playing Tracy Turnblad.

Nearly a decade later, she doesn’t believe that her performing career is quite finished.

“Being an actor is very much alive in me,” Perry said.

The theater star spent 90 minutes with the Apogee group, teaching them original Broadway choreography from the show, and an additional 20 minutes talking with them about her time as a performer, recovery technique from rigorous dancing, and answered any questions that they had.

Marissa Perry teaches her master class to dancers at Apogee Dance Academy.

Marissa Perry teaches her master class to dancers at Apogee Dance Academy.

Perry teaches the Hairspray master class across the country

“It is important to teach that one to dancers who are trained because it loosens and forgets technique,” she said. “It forces you to dance from your gut.”

While instructing each move, Perry gave historical background about the time in which Hairspray is set, allowing the young dancers to understand the cultural differences among the dancing groups and the language of the music.

“You get to take two different types of people, two different cultures, and dance separately like each one,” Perry told the class.

Perry is a Connecticut native, growing up in Wolcott and attending high school in Waterbury, where she also did most of her theater performances.  She and Puglisi have worked together in the past at Seven Angels Theater in Waterbury.

Another featured guest at Apogee last week was John Carter, of Southington, who was Marissa’s teacher growing up.

“It’s a small community, and you don’t even realize it.  Everybody’s intertwined,” Puglisi said about the dance community.

Classes begin the second week of September at Apogee Dance Academy, 122 Spring St.  For more information, Alex Puglisi can be reached at (860) 628-8998.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.

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