The Norfolk Academy community knows well the teaching and coaching excellence Dance Master Elbert Watson provides students through his joy, energy, and dedication each and every day.
On Friday, October 28, Mr. Watson's gifts went on display for a larger audience to enjoy. WHRO-TV's Curate series, which explores the fine arts in Hampton Roads and across the United States, aired an in-depth segment on him, beginning at 8:30 p.m.
The show opens with a tribute to Mr. Watson. "Elbert Watson personifies grace, not only in the way he moves but especially in the way he lives his life," said Jason Kypros '96, one of the hosts.
The segment includes footage from Mr. Watson's childhood years. He grew up in Norfolk, where he found a love for dance.
“It's the best freedom to be performing on stage - it's like taking flight," he said.
From Norfolk, Mr. Watson quickly advanced to the world's biggest stages. While still in his 20s, he earned a position as a principal dancer for the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City, unusual for someone so young. He later moved on to the New York Conservatory of Dance and then went overseas, joining the State Opera Ballet Company Staatsheater in Germany.
While back home in Norfolk one year, Mr. Watson taught a summer programs dance class at Norfolk Academy. “Suddenly I was giving back to children and that was an exciting thing for me," he said.
The rest is history. Mr. Watson has now been teaching dance for almost four decades. At the Academy, he teaches a wide variety of classes for grades 1-12. He directs dance concerts in the fall, winter, and spring, and helps drama students participating in the Winter Musical. He also serves as flexibility and pliability coach for athletics teams.
Mr. Watson said in the segment that one of his goals was to make dance a part of the culture at Norfolk Academy. His instrumental role in the athletics program is strong evidence that he has succeeded.
“I think from the children's point of view, to see the dance teacher and the football coach together in the same room communicating for the same things says a lot about education," Mr. Watson said.
This tribute is still available for viewing through WHRO's website.