Today, Danville resident Amra Boanerges is a notable arborist, trimming trees for Pioneer Playhouse and other clients. And when he’s not trimming trees, he’s figuring out how to bring the love of dance and the arts to town.
Boanerges, who helps behind the scenes at Pioneer Playhouse, was once the star of the stage as a professional ballet dancer. His interest first began in college, when he received a scholarship to Stephens College in Missouri.
“I never had formal training before then, but I could jump really high and I had a lot of energy,” he said.
His instructor, Ms. Gray, saw potential in him because of this and immediately had Boanerges enroll in both lower and upper level courses.
“The first three months, I couldn’t get it, I hated it,” he said. “I literally studied everyone as they went across the floor. Then it clicked.”
Boanerges’ instructor put him in a resident dance company, where he performed in a piece about King Minos of Crete.
“They had a big, giant bull made out of paper and canvas, and I had to jump over it,” he said. “Pretty good for a freshman with only three months of training.”
From there, Boanerges performed in pieces with the Los Angeles Ballet, The Pacific Northwest Dance Co. and Chicago City Ballet, among others. After he retired from the stage, Boarneges still had a desire to teach others the art of rhythm and dance. He held three aerobics classes and a dance class at Centre College years ago, with 40 people in each. He was featured in Dance magazine for his work. He also had four performances in four years at the Norton Center for the Arts at Centre College, and each show was sold out. In Kauai, he put on productions at Kauai Community College.
Since his return to Danville to be with his daughter, he’s discovered there is a chance for interest in dance here as well. In particular, he sees potential in a younger generation.
“I just took my kid to the playground to play and saw all these kids and thought, ‘Wow, look at all these kids, all this energy,’” he said. “Kids are a lot of fun, and they need something to do, and it’s (dance) something to do that’s positive energy. And that’s what I want to do — bring positive energy.”
Boanerges recently has started teaching dance classes at the Community Arts Center. He did a similar program in Grayslake, Ill., and has confidence in his plans.
“My goal is to bring dance to Danville in a way that can put it on the national scene,” he said. “I know it’s not just a pipe dream. I’ve done it, and I can do it again. I just hope Danville is the home for me for dance.”