Page 12 - Marist Magazine Winter 2011-2012

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10
M A R I S T M A G A Z I N E
Sophomore Mitchell DeSimone took a year off from college to perform in the
spectacular Irish step-dancing showcase Lord of the Dance as it toured the
world. Now he’s back at Marist to fulfill another ambition: becoming a teacher.
All the World’s a Stage
This is only one of the many memories
DeSimone has from pursuing his dream of
being a professional dancer, taking a year off
from school to perform on tour with Lord of
the Dance.
He had sent in a tape for his audition while
he was also auditioning for a dance show at
Busch Gardens in Virginia, where he planned
to have a summer job.
“I answered the phone from
a random number, and some
woman said, ‘Hi, this is Gretchen with Lord
of the Dance. We’re just wondering if you would
be available this summer to tour with us?” and
I was like, “Sorry…What??”
DeSimone always wanted to perform in
Lord of the Dance. His friends and family were
very supportive. Some of his friends already
were in the show, which made performing even
more fun.
DeSimone’s dad wanted his oldest son to be
a baseball player, but even as a child growing
up in Redding, CT, DeSimone knew he wanted
to be a dancer. Before he was in kindergarten,
he saw a tap dancer on
Sesame Street
and his
decision about his future was made. “I had to
force my parents to let me take lessons, but
they eventually gave in.”
Growing up, DeSimone studied many styles
of dance. “I started with ballet, tap, and jazz,”
he says. “I picked up Irish dancing when I was
about 11 and it just took off from there.”
When going into rehearsal for the first
time for Lord of the Dance, DeSimone, 20,
had to adjust to his new surroundings. The
new environment and being surrounded by
many professional dancers was intimidating for
him at first. DeSimone says one of the dancers,
who was 35 years old, had been performing in
Lord of the Dance for 17 years. But DeSimone’s
friends reminded him that as part of the show,
he was a professional dancer as well. “It’s weird
to wrap my head around that,” he says.
One of the challenges DeSimone had to
overcome was the preparation for the show.
He says that the male dancers had to learn 12
numbers within a few weeks.
“I learned the whole show in the weekend
I was in Philadelphia and a week and a half in
Taiwan,” he says. “When you’re meant to learn
a dance, it’s not like, learn the dance and work
on it. You’re meant to learn the dance and then
PHOTOS BY LEE FERRIS
He started with ballet,
tap, and jazz, picking up
Irish dancing when he was about 11.
“It just took off from there.”
M
itchell DeSimone was in the dress-
ing room going over dance moves he
had just learned for the musical and dance
production Lord of the Dance when a couple
of the other dancers came in. “You’re up in
10 minutes–the other guy got hurt,” they
said. “You’re taking his place in the opening
number.”
Scared out of his mind, he got
ready to go on stage. He had only
just learned the dances and did
not know the spot changes and other move-
ments around the stage. They gave him the
man’s costume, which seemed designed for a
man three inches taller and 100 pounds heavi-
er than he was.
He struggled to the stage, trying to keep
his pants from falling. He was inches
away from the stage when someone
from behind grabbed him after
playing probably the biggest
prank of DeSimone’s life.
“After that I felt pretty
conf ident,” he says,
laughing.
B Y M Y L E S W I L L I A M S ’ 1 3