Striker to Nutcracker: Rattler Follows His Passion to Ballet Stage

In a ballet dance studio filled with mirrors and bars, students gathered to learn new dance moves from a Florida A&M Striker.

Marcus Bailey, 21, a fourth-year theatre performance student from Ft. Myers, Fla., is a member of the Strikers dance troupe, as well as a member of the Marching ‘100′.

Bailey has been a part of the arts his entire life but being a part of the Strikers gave him opportunities to not only perform with World Ballet, but also become a hip hop instructor for the company.

“It’s very different. I expect them to be on the choreography that I teach, but with the students at the world ballet it’s a little different,” said Bailey.

“All their life these kids have been doing ballet and for me to be a hip hop guy trying to get them out of their element it’s a little tough but it’s fun; they really enjoy it,” said Bailey.

On Tuesdays, Bailey teaches a teenage class followed by an adult class on Wednesdays, and a young children’s class on Fridays.

“It definitely helps me grow as a dancer. I have to have at least two new pieces of choreography each week, so it keeps me on my toes; keeps me aware,” Bailey said.

His hard work and dedication to the arts landed him the role as the nutcracker in The Nutcracker: A Diversity Celebration that was performed Dec. 2-4, 2011.

“A lot of people were inspired by it because it’s usually a predominantly white performance but there were more minorities. The nutcracker was black and the pretty plum princess was black, as well.”

Henry Hernandez, artistic director of World Ballet, approached the Strikers with the idea of teaching a hip-hop class after the success of the Rock the Diamond production.

Rock the Diamond was a ballet meets rock production with a local live band CommonZenZ.

The Strikers impressed Hernandez and his assistant.

“Hernandez’s assistant, Elizabeth Delancy, used to work with Mahogany and clean a lot of our dancers back in the early 90s. He brought her to one of our performances, he liked what he saw and asked to collaborate and I said yes,” said Shapiro Hardemon, Strikers founder.

Although Bailey plans to continue teaching hip-hop, the Strikers have big plans for this semester. They will be moving into their new studio, in The Southside Arts Complex.

The 25,000-square-foot facility will feature classes in dance, theatre and music, dance classes will be taught by professional instructors and some members of the Strikers and Mahogany dance theatre.

On Jan. 28, the Strikers will present Untied We Dance. A dance production that will feature dance troupes on campus and around the city.