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Wunderkind: Noah Barcio

“It was here that Noah discovered his favorite form of dance: the Vaganova method, which he explains emphasizes the strength, flexibility, and conditioning of the entirety of one’s body.”

by Zachary Caronna | Photography by Dave Barfield

Mirror neurons are responsible for our ability to perform acts we’ve never attempted before, sometimes of great complexity, simply by watching another execute the action first. Our brain’s ability to comprehend the movements necessary to carry out a feat vicariously is one example of the limitless possibilities available to us simply because we’re human. Every once in a while though, a person will come around who needs no model or inspiration to do great things, instead relying on vast reservoirs of talent and ambition to do things others haven’t dreamt of. Noah Barcio is one of these people.

By the age of three, when most children actually begin to make use of their mirror neurons, Noah’s had already helped him become proficient in creative movement class at Tallahassee’s Hannah Bergstrom School of Dance. He soon took on ballet, tap, and jazz classes. This was followed by admittance into The Dance Studio. Instructors noted his embodiment of the school’s mantra: through discipline and passion comes excellence, and he quickly became the studio’s youngest member of the Company Dancers for their competitions, community events, out-of-town performances, and yearly recitals. After a few years in character and leaps & turns classes, Noah proceeded onto Russian ballet, strength & conditioning, and partnering classes at World Ballet Inc., where he was granted the opportunity to learn from professional dancers from around the world whilst training for performances of The Nutcracker, Alice in Wonderland, World of Rock, and International Winter Gala.

It was here that Noah discovered his favorite form of dance: the Vaganova method, which he explains emphasizes the strength, flexibility, and conditioning of the entirety of one’s body: “They have strong dancers who rarely get hurt and can dance a long time.” Safe training is a priority in learning the Vaganova method; dancers learn to control their bodies early on before they begin to learn more advanced techniques. “The reason they are less likely to get hurt is because in the classes they take focus on forming the muscles in your body in the right places so that you have the correct muscle memory to do basic ballet correctly and effectively.”

Sure as Noah brushes his teeth every morning, so too does he train for hours every day. Like brushing his teeth, he can perform most of his routines without a thought, they have become so ingrained into his mind. Noah understands the importance of practicing to maintain a mastery of technique, which is why it was such a major obstacle for the thirteen-year-old when World Ballet closed down unexpectedly early this year. Auditions for summer intensives were just around the corner, and he had no one to watch — no instructor from which to hone in on his astounding yet still raw technique.

During this period of uncertainty, Hannah Bergstrom School of Dance—the studio who helped kickstart Noah’s trajectory along the path in the performing arts—reached out to him during a crisis of her own. She needed someone to learn three dances for a competition set to commence a mere two-weeks away after one of her dancers sustained a horrid ankle injury. Noah, in search of an outlet for his creative energies and having uncannily-quick learning capacity, not only obliged but flourished. Brittany Badia, one of instructors for the team appearing in the competition, insists that “Noah learned the choreography effortlessly, put on a stellar performance at the competition, and danced as though the roles were made for him all along.” Luckily for Noah, he found Tallahassee Ballet and Pas de Vie Ballet before summer intensives began auditioning. Brittany, having seen plenty of bright young talents in her fifteen years of choreographing, believes that this is a blessing. “He is the most deserving student I’ve ever known.”

Although he’s been alive for less time than many of his instructors have been teaching dance, Noah has left an imprint on everyone who’s had the pleasure of working with him, including such esteemed instructors as Scott Benson and Joseph Gatti. Everyone who has met the young man attests to Noah’s infatuation with mastering (in every way) the art of dance. Noah isn’t done adding to his repertoire just yet either. He still enjoys learning new forms of dance here in town. He is currently taking breakdancing classes with Louis Valdivieso as well as West African styles with Nzinga. His ability to take criticism with grace and learn a variety of dance styles has already led to great achievements. He’s been offered a full merit tuition scholarship for the Dance Theatre of Harlem among other schools nationwide, though he intends to remain nearer his hometown of Tallahassee and is currently deciding on whether to attend the Orlando Ballet School or Russian Ballet of Orlando.

There’s more to Noah’s story than being a prodigious dancer (although being able to execute a faultless lift before the age of 17 is monumentally impressive in its own right). Equally as amazing as his ability to perform all types of dance is his gift at transferring this knowledge to others in ways they can understand. For some time now, Noah has served as a volunteer teacher for children, granting them the same opportunities he’s grateful to have had throughout the course of his life. He asserts that dance enhances peoples’ ability to think critically and creatively. “Thus, I not only teach children how to dance, but also the skills they need
to be quality citizens in their everyday lives.” It’s uncommon for someone so young to place such an emphasis on investing in the future of their community, but for Noah it’s entirely natural; a driving quote for the young man comes from Marjorie Moore: “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” Noah has raised nearly $1,200 of the $4,500 he needs to pay for room and board (which is not covered by his scholarship) to attend dance school in Orlando. He is adamant about promoting the idea that there is strength and beauty in diversity by exposing people to various different cultures and styles of dance.

“By volunteering my time as a teacher of dance, I show our youth that everyone can make a difference in creating a better world.”

Zach Caronna is currently an editing, writing, and media student at FSU. Please help support Noah in his quest to teach the art of dance by donating to goo.gl/E99qMI.

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