September 2016, Volume 20, Number 4

Cultural Spotlight

Lloyd Knight
New World School of the Arts alum Lloyd Knight

A Dancer to Watch

Born in London, raised in Miami since age 7, and now a dancer at the top of his profession, you didn’t need to consult the oracle to see that Lloyd Knight would likely end up on the stage.

Knight is a dancer of uncommon natural ability and poise. Culture Vulture called him a “powerful performer,” and Dance magazine called him a dancer of “physical strength, dramatic impact and [having] a sense of the human being underneath the dancer.” The magazine named him one of the “Top 25 Dancers to Watch” in 2010 and one of the “Top Performers of 2015.”

But talent alone doesn’t always win the day, and Knight benefited from some serendipitous encounters that paved the way to his future success. At Norland Middle School, he caught the eye of dance teacher Lorraine Florido. “They were always doing shows there, and she saw me dancing one day in homeroom class and asked if I wanted to join the magnet program,” says Knight.

After high school, Knight began studying at New World School of the Arts at MDC. “MDC was a great training ground. I earned my associate degree there, and got to dance with Diane Brownholtz.”

Knight continued his studies at New World and also the Miami Conservatory of Ballet, maintaining a grueling schedule of practice. “I danced, literally, all day long, starting at 8 in the morning at New World, and then in the evenings and on weekends at the Conservatory.” Knight also studied during the summers in New York, including stints at the famed Alvin Ailey School, the Martha Graham School and the Dance Theatre of Harlem on scholarship.

At New World, Knight met a mentor who would provide the springboard to a professional career: “I consider New World to be one of the best conservatories in the world, and I studied with Peter London there.” London, the founder and artistic director of eponymous Peter London Global Dance Company, was formerly a principal in the Martha Graham Dance Company in New York City. He regularly brought Graham company dancers to Miami to work with and perform for New World students. Soon, Knight was invited to try out for the Martha Graham Company himself.

He made it on his first audition.

Now a principal in the company, Knight performs leading roles in some of the most important pieces in the company’s repertory. He was a lead in new ballets by top choreographers Nacho Duato and Pontus Lidbergs, as part of the company’s 90th anniversary season. He also played Oedipus in Night Journey, Graham’s rendition of Sophocles’ dark drama, which premiered in 1947.

“It is a deep story, and a new piece for me. I had the benefit of being coached by masters, including some performers from the original cast,” Knight recounts. “Making the character real for myself and the audience was the challenge, but when the lights came on and the curtain went up, everything just clicked.”

This fall, Knight will travel on tour to Cuba with the company to take part in the 25th International Dance Festival of Havana. In the meantime, he is in demand as a guest teacher at top dance studios in New York.

“MDC and New World School of the Arts provided me with great teachers, magnificent facilities and a solid foundation,” Knight says. “I am thankful, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”

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