It’s high praise to get from anyone, but when you’re a 16-year-old dancer from South Dakota and the compliment comes from a renowned professional dancer and choreographer from San Diego – the comment might just leave you speechless.
Geoff Gonzalez of the San Diego City Ballet first noticed Prima School of Dancing student Alec Rembolt when Geoff visited Rapid City to direct the Black Hills Dance Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker.
Gonzalez was so impressed with Alec, he offered him a scholarship to train in San Diego with the San Diego City Ballet this past summer. Geoff and his wife even opened their home to the aspiring dancer.
“Alec really is a special kid. I couldn’t have had a better time working with him, and I hear this from everyone who knows him,” said Gonzalez. “The directors and teachers out here all say the same thing; they love the boy.”
But Alec didn’t travel from South Dakota to San Diego without a few bumps in the road. He began training at Prima School of Dancing when he was five years old. His natural athletic ability was enhanced by the coordination, balance and work ethic he learned in the dance studio. And what he learned in the studio translated to an unlikely spot: the stadium.
“I loved football, and in middle school, my coaches respected my dance side. Sometimes other players picked on me, but I put all my effort into it to do the best I could,” said Alec. “Dance helped me out with sports a lot.”
It’s not easy being the football player who also dedicates his time to dance. “I thought about quitting dance, but I kept going,” said Alec. It all turned around when Alec shot up to six foot five and began doing more advanced moves, like lifts with partners.
“Miss Christy [Remington] started working on partnering and lifts. I thought ‘partnering – this is fun. This is what I want to do.’ So, I started to watch examples of pas de deux on YouTube and was inspired.”
With a renewed dedication to dance, Alec stepped up his training at Prima with private lessons and classes to prepare for that year’s Nutcracker auditions. All the hard work paid off when Gonzalez cast him in a prominent lead role as Drosselmeyer.
Alec was happy with his role, but nothing could prepare him for what came next.
“The day before the show I was visiting with Geoff and he said ‘I was wondering if you’d like to come to San Diego for a summer intensive.’ I was speechless – so, my mom answered for me. My mom and I had a huggie moment; she was crying, and all I thought was: ‘This is happening to me! I’m just a guy in Rapid City.’”
In San Diego, Alec trained with some of the most accomplished dancers in the world from the American Ballet Theatre, including dance prodigy Paloma Herrera. He is continuing his training at Prima School of Dancing while taking on a new role – starting a men’s dance class.
“Guys who pick on male dancers don’t know that it is so much harder than football. I hope to inspire people to show the world who they really are – that’s what dance has done for me.”