Dancer goes from bachata to ballet and conquers the world

Major Nesby has always loved to dance. He was raised dancing bachata in Atlanta, Ga. and today he is a professional ballet dancer with Ailey II, the second company of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The 24-year-old says he’s excited to be back in New York City, after a 35-city world tour, to dance in 14 new performances from April 18-29 at The Ailey Citigroup Theater.

“At a young age, I felt very comfortable expressing myself through movement,” says Nesby, who dances eight hours daily.

Just in time for National Dance Week (April 20-29), Nesby will be performing opening night tonight with his 12-member troupe the Modern Moves program, including “Echoes” by Thang Dao and “Reference Point” by Troy Powell.

He says that his inspiration was largely influenced by his Dominican culture – especially his family dancing at home every Saturday night to Hector Lavoe and Antony Santos. He says that’s where it all started, along with watching the choreography of Janet Jackson on MTV.

Later, while participating with a youth urban outreach program in Atlanta, he became exposed to to ballet and jazz. The dance teacher explained to his mom that the only studio with available space was ballet.

“I said ‘Mommy, I don’t want to do ballet,’ and my mom said, ‘Well people expect you do do hip hop, why don’t you do something else?’ Since I love a challenge, I ended up loving it. I didn’t have an interest to do hip hop anymore.”

Nesby also says a big influence in his life were mentors – especially Nicky Buggs, one of his first mentors who he calls his sister because she was so proactive in his dance education.

“She’s Puerto Rican, and I see myself in her,” he says. “She’s my complexion….She’d go to my house, wake me up out of bed literally and take me to an audition. She literally became part of the family. I always tell people to find a mentor. Even now, I’m 24 and have mentors. It’s important to have people that look like me and tell me that you can do this and stop being lazy.”

He says he can’t really capture in words how dance makes him feel because he is most comfortable expressing himself through movement. He says he loves it all from ballet to modern.

“You can never recreate that moment, that theater, that ballet,” says Nesby. “It’s impossible…it’s just an overwhelming feeling of exploration, of sharing between the audience and other company members.”

To Nesby the opportunity to tour the world over two years was mind-blowing and he says it has influenced the person he has become. However, he says no place or audience compares to New York City.

“My mom would tell me when I was little that I would pack my bags and say I was moving to New York City,” he says. “It was a city that I always wanted to live in permanently, because of its options and diversity…Coming home everyday and seeing people that look like you…This is home to me. It feels good to be here and perform.”

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