CICS Northtown Academy Senior Heads To New York City’s Alvin Ailey Dance Theater

My name is Nigel Teamer and I’m a 17-year-old lifelong Chicagoan. I’m currently a senior at CICS Northtown Academy. The majority of my elementary years were spent at a traditional public school. I didn’t apply to many high schools. CICS Northtown caught my eye, however. I heard from friends and other CICS Northtown students that it was a great school, one where they really pushed their students. It was an added bonus that it was close to my home. I feel so fortunate to have gotten in to a rigorous and supportive school.

I came to CICS Northtown without much of a focus or a passion. I had always been a decent student, but nothing really excited me. Nothing, that is, except dance. In 6th grade, I entered an afterschool ballroom dance class with a friend. We had so much fun learning the steps. At the end of the class, there was a waltz competition and we won! I continued to dance recreationally throughout seventh and eighth grade, taking hip hop classes every few months.

In ninth grade, my first year at CICS Northtown, I knew that dance was really my passion. I started to take my training more seriously as I worked with the Joel Hall Dancers & Center. At the center, I learned that great dancers are well-versed in a variety of dance styles, including ballet, modern, and jazz, so I added new styles into my own repertoire. As my flexibility, stamina, memory, and confidence increased, I became more active within the dance community. I completed an internship at the Joel Hall Center. My passion only grew stronger.

During my junior year, my family and I went to go see a performance in Chicago by the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater group. Something about their performance really moved me and I knew I wanted to be up on that stage with them. After the performance, I saved up my money to pay for a spot in an Alvin Ailey master class. What I didn’t expect was that the instructors would be watching us all so at the end, they would offer a scholarship for one student to attend a week-long Alvin Ailey class in New York City. We danced our hearts out during that master class and the competition was fierce. After one grueling two-and-a-half hour session, the director announced that I had won! My jaw just dropped. My whole family is incredibly proud of me. I cannot wait to head to the Big Apple.

Spending so much time at a dance studio (four times each week) isn’t easy, especially when you’re a young male just starting out. I never wanted to be stereotyped and made fun of for something that brings me such joy and a physical release. The other men that I dance with motivate me each day.

I’m also driven by a supportive community at CICS Northtown. It’s like we’re one big family, where everyone truly listens to one another. A few years ago, our school leaders revamped our curriculum and asked us, our parents, and the teachers for input. Everyone brought their best ideas together to come up with a wider variety of rigorous electives offerings. This year, I finished my core academic requirements. My current schedule includes dance (I’m the TA!), mythology, Chicago history, Academic Lab, art, and choir. I am happier than I’ve ever been.

It’s clear that my hard work has paid off at school and in the dance studio. My goal is to attend a performing arts conservatory or university and focus on dance performance. My dream school is in Los Angeles. They have a commercial dance program that really excites me. I’m confident, though, that with the skills and knowledge that I’ve acquired over the last four years, I’ll end up exactly where I’m supposed to be.