— Sept. 2, 2016
ribbed tank, Gregory Manning walked slowly through the lower-level dance studio
at Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Arts and Humanities, clapping his
hands to the beat.
Weaving in and out of the staggered path made
by the 15 or so teen dancers in the room, Manning paused periodically to push
heads a little lower, backs a little flatter and to lengthen arms.
One by one, he helped students achieve the proper
form required to tackle The Horton Technique, a unique and challenging set of
exercises created by American modern dancer and choreographer Lester Horton.
Being inside the studio at Broad Ripple,
helping aspiring dancers improve their skills while learning different styles of
the art form, is something Manning has always envisioned for himself but never
thought would come so early into his career.
“You know, I had been back in New York for
the past year and prior to that I was in Vegas,” said Manning, a 25-year-old Indianapolis
native and professional dancer. “I was just looking to come back and guest
But when the opportunity to become a full-time
dance magnet faculty member at his alma mater became available this school year,
Manning jumped at the opportunity. Broad Ripple opened its doors in 1886,
adding the visual and performing arts magnet program in 1976.
Manning entered as a student in 2005 and on
Aug. 18, 2016, walked through the doors as a member of the school’s faculty.
And just like the Broad Ripple dance teachers
he had as a student, Manning is tough yet nurturing.
“I am THAT instructor,” said Manning, “that
tough instructor who pushes his students to be the best. I just want my
students to understand that discipline is so important. I want them to work
hard. I want them to give me all (they have) because I’m giving them all of me.”
He knows from experience that pushing
students to their limit is what it takes to help them get to that next level of
dance. “I know what it’s like to be out there to have to grind,” he said.
After graduating from Broad Ripple in 2009,
Manning, who began his dance training at age 11 at Shortridge Middle School,
studied at The Ailey School (the official school of Alvin Ailey American Dance
Theater) in New York from 2009–2012, earning a certificate in dance.
Professionally, he has performed with Alvin
Ailey American Dance Theater, Dance Kaleidoscope and Judah International Dance
Theatre. He has toured as a male ensemble dancer with the annual “Christmas
Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes,” and was a dancer in “Jubilee!” —
the longest-running show on the Las Vegas Strip. He also has scored several
gigs as a model in New York.
While he loves being a student of dance,
learning new choreography and performing on stage, Manning’s love for teaching
is just as strong.
“With me being an alum and being so
successful here and accomplishing so much, I feel that it’s my responsibility
to give all of that back – as much as I can,” said Manning, who is trained in
ballet, modern, jazz, tap, hip-hop and African. “It’s my turn to pass it down.
To pass down what my past teachers have given me. And It feels good to give it
He credits the arts education he received at
Shortridge and Broad Ripple for providing the spark in dance that allowed him
to follow his passion. He also understands that not everyone gets an
opportunity to study arts in school like he did and like his students are doing
now. So he wants them to take the opportunity that they have been given seriously.
“I just want to make sure that they are
living up to their best and doing it for themselves,” said Manning. “I want
them to exceed my expectations.”
Although still young, Manning is at a stage
in his life where he feels comfortable — based on his skill level, his
experiences and his training — teaching the next generation of dancers.
“This feels good. I know what I’ve done and
what I’ve accomplished, and now it’s their turn,” he said about his students. “I
accomplished a lot (at Broad Ripple). I got praised here, and now I just want
to give that all back and make it about (the students). I want them to blow my
mind! I want them to take me to another stratosphere, another galaxy. I need
them to get out on this Marley floor and make it happen.”