When Winston-Salem native Jett Lecamu first asked his mom to take him to dance classes at the age of five, he fell in love with the art form and has never looked back. After four years of ballet training, he enrolled in the Preparatory Dance Program and was immediately drawn to UNCSA, its dedicated dancers, the intensity of instruction and, most importantly for Lecamu, the many opportunities to perform on stage. “That’s when I became really serious about wanting to pursue dance,” he recalled.
Now 16, Lecamu is heading into his junior year in the high school dance program at UNCSA, where he takes a host of academic classes — of which he lists math as his favorite — while continuing to train. Audiences had the opportunity to see him as both the Nutcracker Prince and Marzipan during the most recent production of “The Nutcracker,” which featured brand-new choreography by faculty member (and Lecamu’s coach) Ilya Kozadayev. The beauty of UNCSA, Lecamu explained, is that he gets to “take technique, variations and partnering classes and prepare for several productions throughout the year as part of my regular high school experience.”
Based on Lecamu’s previous performances and success in the Youth America Grand Prix competitions, Kozadayev suggested he send in an audition tape for the Prix de Lausanne, a prestigious international ballet competition held annually in Switzerland. For the 2022 competition, Lecamu was one of only 74 young dancers selected to compete out of 376 who applied. Only 14 were from the United States.
Prior to the competition, Lecamu worked with Kozadayev to develop both his classical and contemporary variations while also continuing to strengthen his fundamental skills and technique. At the end of January, they traveled to Switzerland for Lecamu to participate in the competition, an experience he calls “life-changing.”
You will have doubts, and that’s normal but you have to push yourself to do the best you can.Jett Lecamu
“It was a week of wonderful classes and incredible instruction,” said Lecamu, adding that another highlight was being able to meet talented dancers from all over the world. Overall, he said one of the best parts of participating in the Prix was being able to perform. “There is no better feeling than being on stage,” said Lecamu.
When asked about young dancers who will follow in his footsteps, Lecamu’s advice is direct: Don’t give up. “You will have doubts, and that’s normal,” he said, “but you have to push yourself to do the best you can.” He added that something to keep in mind when trying to master technique is that “once you get a handle on the fundamentals, it all gets a lot more fun.”
Looking ahead to the future, Lecamu says his goal is to continue dancing and eventually join a ballet company devoted to the classical repertoire. “Some of my favorite ballets I have ever seen include ‘Don Quixote’ and ‘Giselle,’” he explained, adding that his dream is to be able to perform those ballets with a major, national company. Having accomplished so much at such a young age, Lecamu has the determination, dedication and passion for dance to lead wherever he chooses to go.
This article appeared in the 2022 issue of Scene.
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July 21, 2022