By Taroue Brooks
Renaldo Maurice (Gary, IN) began his dance training with Tony Simpson and graduated from Talent Unlimited High School. He attended Emerson School for Visual and Performing Arts, studying with Larry Brewer and Michael Davis. Mr. Maurice was a scholarship student at The Ailey School, Ballet Chicago and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, and interned at Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. He received second place in modern dance from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and received the Dizzy Feet Foundation Scholarship. In 2012 he was honored with the key to the city of his hometown Gary, Indiana, and named a state representative. Mr. Maurice incorporated his passion for dance with social responsibility as the Co-Artistic Director of the South Shore Dance Alliance in Indiana. He was a member of Ailey II for three years and joined the Company in 2011 and rejoined in 2019.
How did you begin your journey of dance?
My dance journey began with my mother pushing us to partake in many activities to keep us off the streets and out of trouble. Track and Field, basketball, baseball and dance, though good at all of them, my passion was dance. An instructor took a liking to me. She encouraged me to work on my skills. Her advice was followed.
How did you know that you wanted to dance professionally?
I was 7 years old in my hometown, Gary Indiana when I saw the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater perform at the West Side Theater Guild. I saw people who looked like me, having so much fun doing something they loved doing and that’s when I told myself that’s what I want to do.
What is it like to be part of the legendary Alvin Ailey Dance Company?
The feeling is rejuvenating! I have a responsibility. Mr. Ailey said “Dance comes from the people and it should always be given back to the people” and that’s what we do. God has blessed us all with beautiful gifts and those gifts should always be used to cultivate the greater good. No matter where we are in the world, before I step foot on the stage I always ask the creator to use me to do his will so it’s never about me.
What preparation do you have before a performance?
My preparation before a performance is a bath, warm up, and then my meditations.
How do you manage the competitiveness in this industry?
This industry can be tough for sure. For me managing everything is staying true to myself as a black man/artist from creation perspective and not by society’s perspective.
What have you done to encourage and inspire young people using your craft?
I’ve taking on the role as co-artistic director of the South Shore Dance Alliance back home in Gary, Indiana. It’s impacted my life a great deal. I enjoy educating and teaching dance especially at my studio. It’s always refreshing because there’s so much talent and being able to groom the next generation of dance artists is big responsibility to me. I once was in their shoes and I was fortunate to have mentors and great teachers who pushed and believed in me. I must do the same.
Where would you like to see your career in the next five years?
In the next 5 years with Gods will and more hard work I would like to see my career elevating, incorporating my love for dance with my love for fashion. I want to be bicoastal and eventually want to move to Europe.
Find Mr. Maurice on Facebook at Maurice Gardner and Instagram @r_maurice25.
About Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from a now-fabled performance in March 1958 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Led by Alvin Ailey and a group of young African-American modern dancers, that performance changed forever the perception of American dance.
The Ailey company has gone on to perform for an estimated 25 million people at theaters in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents – as well as millions more through television broadcasts, film screenings, and online platforms.
In 2008, a U.S. Congressional resolution designated the Company as “a vital American cultural ambassador to the world” that celebrates the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance heritage. When Mr. Ailey began creating dances, he drew upon his “blood memories” of Texas, the blues, spirituals, and gospel as inspiration, which resulted in the creation of his most popular and critically acclaimed work, Revelations. Although he created 79 ballets over his lifetime, Mr. Ailey maintained that his company was not exclusively a repository for his own work.
Today, the Company continues Mr. Ailey’s mission by presenting important works of the past and commissioning new ones. In all, more than 235 works by over 90 choreographers have been part of the Ailey company’s repertory.
Before his untimely death in 1989, Alvin Ailey named Judith Jamison as his successor, and over the next 21 years, she brought the Company to unprecedented success. Ms. Jamison, in turn, personally selected Robert Battle to succeed her in 2011, and The New York Times declared he “has injected the company with new life.”