Ramón Flowers - Butler University Professor and Students Dance Through the Pandemic
Christine Jowers for The Dance Enthusiast: Ramón, thank you so much for sharing what you are up to. I would like to ask you a little bit about the video you are sharing with us. What are we seeing?
Ramón Flowers: What you are seeing is a compilation of my Level 3 Jazz class at Butler University. You will see me alone often doing the dance combination and later you will see me dancing with my students.
What had you planned for 2020 prior to the Corona Virus Shutdowns? What were you looking forward to and how has that shifted?
Ramón Flowers: I was scheduled to perform at Clowes Memorial Hall for Spotlight Indy 2020, which is one of the largest fundraiser events in Indiana with proceeds going to AIDS research and support funds. I was also going to teach at The American Dance Festival Summer Intensive, and I was scheduled to perform at the faculty concert. However, COVID had a different plan.
How have you taken care of your mind, body, and spirit since the beginning of the pandemic, through the political tensions, racial injustices, and social protests?
Ramón Flowers: It hasn’t been easy, but I am getting through all of the madness by daily meditation, eating well, walking in nature while listening to amazing music, and dancing.
What are the challenges of being a professor of dance conducting live classes during the time of COVID?
Ramón Flowers: Making sure that my daily classes are planned with social distancing in mind, and gaining the stamina to dance, and breathe in the mask.
Do you also teach remotely and what is that experience like compared to “live classes” What do you like better?
Ramón Flowers: No, I don’t teach any classes remotely. We did the first week and a half of classes, and I hated it! There’s such a disconnect from the students, and we had a lot of technical challenges. There was also a delay in the audio, so it always seemed as if the students were off the music.
What have you learned about yourself as a person, teacher, artist during this, one of the craziest of times in our world?
Ramón Flowers:I’ve learned that I’m a lot more fragile than I realized.
Your background is rich from being the first male black dancer in the Pennsylvania ballet to dancing with Maurice Béjart, to working with William Forsythe in Frankfurt, Nacho Duato in Spain, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens and then there’s Broadway. woweeeee! What from your diverse, fantastic background do you try to impart to your students? What is the most important lesson that they should walk away with from Professor Flowers.
Ramón Flowers: To my students I impart the permission to love what they are doing. Students often work so hard on technical perfection that they forget to enjoy the process and allow themselves to let go and discover.
I often remind them that they are hopefully doing something that they love, and if that’s the case, why not show it?
What are you most grateful for?
Ramón Flowers:I’m most grateful for learning to love me for exactly who I was born to be.
What do you dream for the dance of the future?
Ramón Flowers: My dream for dance of the future is finally getting to a place where we can dance beyond boundaries.
Ramón Flowers, Photo Courtesy of Artist
He returned to North America to dance with Montreal`s Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, where repertoire encompassed pieces by all the choreographers for whom he’d danced in Europe, as well as the works of George Balanchine, which were very familiar to him because of his first training as a teenage student. He then left Canada to return to his first love for dance, musical theatre and was featured in several Broadway shows, including Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Cats, The Lion King, The Green Bird, The Boy From Oz, and Hot Feet, as well as Broadway National Tours with Chita Rivera in The Dancer's Life, and A Chorus Line, in the role of Richie. While living in NYC he was featured in commercials, film, and Television. Ramon teaches ballet at the American Dance Festival Summer Intensive at Duke University, as well as workshops on the William Forsythe style of movement in NYC during his time away from Butler University. He received his BA in French from The City College of New York, CUNY, and his MFA in Dance from The University of Iowa.