Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Dancing to the Stars With Oxford's Annaleigh Kurr Tuesday at Powerhouse

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Annaleigh Kurr, (second from right) is a talented dancer and actor.

Steve Vassallo, HottyToddy.com contributor recently chatted with Oxford resident and accomplished dancer Annaleigh Kurr: Annaleigh is performing at the Powerhouse Tuesday, Oct. 21 from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.with the 5th Repertory Dance Company. The Oxford Acting Studio will also perform at this event , which is free to the public. Annaleigh found her passion early on in life and has never doubted her decision to dance and perform in front of large audiences. Previously she studied under Genevieve Fortner for 10 years at the Oxford Ballet School. While at Oxford High School,  she participated in the Drama Department directed by John Davenport. Her passion is now paying dividends as she won the following dance awards recently — Ballet; Modern; Improvisation; and Composition. Her future appears to be extremely bright!
HottyToddy.com — Annaleigh, tell us why you decided to become a dancer.
Annaleigh Kurr — It all started at age four when I was diagnosed with childhood arthritis in my back. The pediatrician recommended my parents enroll me in ballet to strengthen my back. In the early years of life in the studio, dancing was about keeping my back from hurting. In fact, for most of my childhood, dancing was a love/hate relationship, however, when I entered my teenage years, something clicked and dancing got in my blood.
HottyToddy.com —The Mississippi School of the Arts is well known. About how many students attend?
Annaleigh Kurr — We have 140 students on average each year from more than 48 counties across Mississippi. MSA offers disciplines in visual arts, vocal music, drama, literary art, and dance. (By Suzanne Hirsch, Executive Director of Mississippi School of the Arts)
HottyToddy.com — What paths would a typical student take after graduating from MSA?
Annaleigh Kurr — More than 95 percent of our students go straight to college/university. About 75 percent stay in Mississippi. Not everyone majors in their artistic discipline, but a large majority do. We are only 12 years old this year. A majority of our alumni are still in graduate/doctoral programs around the country. By Suzanne Hirsch, Executive Director of Mississippi School of the Arts
HottyToddy.com — Tell us about the Oxford Acting Studio including its mission.
Annaleigh Kurr — OAS is designed to help students, through professional acting training, discover, develop and build confidence in their own unique abilities. We are a professional acting studio that provides students, with aspirations for a career in acting, the tools to grow and refine their craft. It’s also a place to put a toe in the water and find that this type of training can be beneficial in all aspects of one’s life. By Rhes Low, Director of The Oxford Acting Studio
HottyToddy.com — We understand tomorrow night (Tuesday) there will be a performance at the Powerhouse with the 5th Repertory Company. Can you describe the event for us?
Annaleigh Kurr — The program is a showcase highlighting how community arts programming is an important part of fostering the arts in Mississippi. Oxford Acting Studio and programs in our schools introduce students to the value of art and the focus and discipline required to become an artist. While programs like the Mississippi School of the Arts foster developing artists and the arts from our state. The evening will feature showcases from the Oxford Acting Studio and the 5th Repertory Dance Company from MSA. It is a chance for students in our region to learn more about opportunities in Mississippi to grow and expand on the skills they are learning through local dance, acting, and vocal music and experience the wonderful art other Mississippi students are creating. By Wayne Andrews, Executive Director of Yoknapatawpha Arts Council
HottyToddy.com — Were there other students in Oxford who inspired you to enter this field of endeavor?
Annaleigh Kurr — While dancing in Oxford, I had wonderful dance friends at Oxford Ballet School who inspired me to the fullest. Together, we loved, supported, and challenged each other to push ourselves to become better dancers in the studio and on stage. Also, I can’t talk about inspiration without mentioning two Oxford instructors who greatly impacted my dance choices, Mrs. Genevieve Fortner, founder and director of Oxford Ballet School and Mr. John Davenport, Director of the Oxford High School Theatre Department. Their instruction and support gave me the courage to step out of my comfort zone to audition and seek enrollment at Mississippi School of the Arts.
HottyToddy.com — Do you have aspirations to perform on Broadway?
Annaleigh Kurr — I love the idea of performing on stage but do not believe that performing on Broadway is in my future. I love acting and dancing but have not spent a lot of time on vocal training. However, I will keep my options open.
HottyToddy.com — Years ago Rosie and I worked with an excellent ballet performer, Allison Kellogg, as she won the Miss Mississippi Pageant and then competed for Miss America. Would this competition also interest you?
Annaleigh Kurr — That’s not really my thing. Outside the studio I’m more of a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl.
HottyToddy.com — What is next for you following MSA as to your education?
Annaleigh Kurr — I’m a big Rebel fan and if Ole Miss had a dance program it would be at the top of my list, however, at this point, I plan to attend a university with a dance department. I plan to audition at Belhaven University, University of Southern Mississippi, University of Alabama, and Texas A&M. In addition to majoring in dance, I am also interested in taking the prerequisites for physical therapy school which my father is encouraging me to do. If I choose that career path after college, I would focus on sports and dance injuries.
HottyToddy.com —  What advice can you give to younger students who are also inclined in dance and performing on stage?
Annaleigh Kurr — I would tell them to find a good dance school, don’t skip class, pay close attention to the instructor, and according to Ms. Tammy Stanford, Artistic Director of the MSA dance program and my mentor “MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT”. In addition, take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Mississippi School of the Arts was that opportunity for me. I would encourage area dancers and other young artists to attend Tuesday’s performance at the Powerhouse to learn more about programs offered at MSA and opportunities with the Oxford Acting Studio.
HottyToddy.com — What was life like growing up in Oxford?
Annaleigh Kurr — I was 5-years-old when my family moved to Oxford which has been a great place to grow up. I made fond memories, fantastic friends, had wonderful teachers, and received a superb education from Regents School of Oxford and through the Oxford school system. It was a Hotty Totty Oxford kind of a life. What else can I say?
Steve-Vassallo-Photo-Oct-20131-150x150Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. In addition, he is a certified economic and community developer and currently, a highly successful leader in the real estate business with Premier Properties of Oxford. Steve’s lifelong dream has been to live in Oxford full-time. “I am now living my dream daily as is my wife Rosie, who works with the Oxford Chamber of Commerce,” Steve said. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.