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Landri dances his way into Juilliard’s summer program, hopes to become professional dancer

Photo courtesy of Lounes Landri

LOUNES BY THE LAKE: Bending forward with one leg in the air and his arms spread out, junior Lounes Landri executes a Penché. Landri started dancing when he was in seventh grade, and this summer, he will be attending a summer program at The Juilliard School.

Lauren Lashley and Alissa Donatello

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Dance. A graceful yet complicated art that requires years of careful instruction and hours upon hours of practice each week, according to junior Lounes Landri. Landri is a dancer at South and has been dancing for five years.

According to Landri, his infatuation with dancing began in seventh grade, when his cousin introduced him to one of his preferred forms of    dance: improvisation. Landri explains how his cousin’s attendance at Foster Dance Studios was influential to his decision to take classes there as well.

“My cousin was dancing at [Foster Dance Studios], and I wasn’t really doing anything at the time, activity wise, and she told me to come take one of the [improvisation] classes,” Landri said. “I took that and I fell in love with [dancing].”

After the first class, Landri explained, he was hooked and chose to pursue improvisation, as well as contemporary and modern dancing later on in his dancing career.

“I went through a phase for a while where I thought I just wanted to be a classical dancer and be in a ballet company,” Landri said. “But then I realized that I really like contemporary and modern, and I want to be in a company that does all those things and not just ballet.”

According to dance teacher Trisha Moulakelis, who taught Landri for a semester, by the time Landri attended her class, he was almost dancing like a professional.

“I take no credit for Lounes’ dance abilities […],” Moulakelis said. “He is way beyond anyone I’ve ever had in dance [skill wise]. He has experience beyond anyone of my students in the class and that I have ever had in my 15 years of teaching here.”

Moulakelis explains that from the first day she met Landri, she was impressed by his dance skills and felt bad because of the nature of the dance class she taught. According to Moulakelis, she found it unfair that an experienced dancer was learning with students who were more of beginners.

“We are starting a Dance Two class next year, which will give him more of an opportunity to use his dance skills for a better cause [by] teaching the lower level classes [and doing] more choreography,” Moulakelis said.

Landri explains his plans for his future in dance, starting with The Juilliard School in New York, an academy for the performing arts. According to Landri, he was accepted by the school for a summer program. Landri believes that this was his biggest accomplishment thus far as a dancer.

“It’s a [program], which high school students can audition for, and if you get accepted, you go and live at Juilliard for three weeks and take classes there,” Landri said.

Getting accepted to this program is a feat of it’s own, considering Juilliard’s six-point-seven percent acceptance rate in 2013, according to Music School Central. For the summer program, only 44 students from around the world are accepted, and Landri was in that group. The audition to be accepted into this program began with ballet and then moved to modern dance, Landri says.

“At my audition, there were 50-something people in the beginning, and then they cut people,” Landri said. “When we got there, we took a ballet class and then after the ballet class they cut most of the people. Then we had a modern class. It went from 50 people to 15 in that modern class. [After the modern class,] you’re in the final pool of applicants and then they email you and tell you if you got in.”

With hopes high, Landri explains that he wishes to go to Juilliard after high school and become a professional dancer. According to Landri, though he wants to pursue dance, he believes that competitive dance is overrated, and should be focused on solely as an art form.

“[Dance is an art] because it’s not like you’re trying to win anything,” Landri said. “There are competitions, but those are kind of silly. [Dance] is about performing and communicating and getting a message across to an audience through movement and music.”

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The news site of Glenbrook South High School
Landri dances his way into Juilliard’s summer program, hopes to become professional dancer