What a great name, what a great dancer…
Prince and I went to LaGuardia High School together. I remember after my classes I would run to the other side of the building as fast as I can, hoping to see Prince finishing a grand allegro or dancing the final combination in Graham class. Prince stood out even in high school. He has an incredible flexibility and extensions to die for… it really is amazing. High Legs don’t mean everything, but when you see a man with that type of facility… you remember. On stage he was phenomenal. He has beautiful dark skin, which grabs your attention and a great movement quality which keeps you watching. We were also at The Ailey School summer program together! I didn’t want to miss my summer dose of inspiration…
Unlike other dancers, Prince had no “Diva” attitude. He always encouraged the younger dancers and always had a moment to chat. He is a sweet and calm person… until suddenly he makes you laugh so hard your crying. I tell you, when Prince and Michelle Smith (fellow LaGuardia alumni) were in the same room, they were unstoppable with their jokes or comic sketches… They did great impressions as well, I loved it.
Prince was a hard worker even then. He had a great work ethic. Warming up and stretching before and after class. I know that can sound silly, but in high school, not many dancers were doing that. Side note: Dance programs should include a warm up workshop where they teach you exercises to warm up… He was a great example for all the dancers to have.
Prince also gave me a lot of dance tips that I never forgot. Like how to stretch my feet using the piano (be careful with this) or stretching my calves and hamstrings while in a hot bath (try this!). I really looked up to him and still do today. He won’t remember this, but once he told me, very early in my training at Laguardia, that I “looked good” in a combination. It is not a big deal to say this, but he might have been the first person to tell me I look good dancing… and rightfully so, I was a horror in my early years. Before that I never thought about how I looked… Actually I don’t know if that is a good thing or bad thing yet, probably both a blessing… and a curse.
Prince is from Bronx, NY, and began his formal training at The Ailey School. After graduating from LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts he continued his studies at the San Francisco Ballet School. Subsequently, Prince joined AileyII. Since then, Prince has danced with Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève.
Prince has worked as a guest artist for Complexions Contemporary Ballet as well as assisted in setting artistic director, Dwight Rhoden’s work on the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In 2002, Prince began working with Alonzo King, as well as assisting in setting his works on the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Cedar Lake Ensemble and North Carolina Dance Theater. Credell has also assisted in setting King’s works on Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Ballet Béjart Lausanne. In 2006, he received the Isadora Duncan Award. Prince has danced as a guest artist with the project Jacoby & Pronk, and currently dances with Netherlands Dance Theater.
I had the pleasure of watching Prince grow into the amazing dancer he is today. When I think about how closely I watched Prince, It makes me think about what type of example I am giving the young dancers in Basel. I mean…I am a hard worker, with a positive attitude… but I guess you can never really see yourself… so I stay on my toes.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always want to do what you’re doing now?
Ironically, growing up I never managed to narrow it down. I wanted to be a fireman, and then I thought I wanted to be a pilot. Fortunately, dance found its way into my life at a young age. Since then I’ve had bouts of wanting to quit, especially when I was younger. Regardless, I had hoped to one day have a professional career dancing.
Prince ‘s Favorite Things
Favorite Things to eat?
I like sweets! Gelato, ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt or orange sherbert always works for me.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Kundera, Never Let Me Go by Ishiguro, Invisible Man by Ellison
Cheesey 80s fantasy films-minus the HD and state of the art visual effects: The Never Ending Story, Labyrinth, Legend.
I like dancers who…
…Dig deep and dance like no one is watching. I am intrigued when a dancer is able to become the lead instrument on top of the music, or many other facets that live performances can include. When a dancer is not ‘swallowed-up’ by other elements it can be moving.
I am afraid of…
Something you like to do other your current job?
One of the happiest moments in your life?
One of the happiest moments of my life is actually dance related! It was when I received a scholarship to study at Dance Theater of Harlem (DTH), along with my brother. My parents had seen an audition notice in the local newspaper. At the time I was a very shy kid, and auditioning was out of the question, especially because I was just below the recommended age. Eventually my brother passed the audition, and so my mother decided to make me part of that institution by introducing me to the director of the school, Arthur Mitchell. Despite my young age and my shy personality, I was able to join the school and also receive a scholarship! I felt so happy, lucky and excited to go to DTH. I remember feeling so overjoyed for my brother passing the audition, especially because his picture was in the newspaper! I felt proud of him, and at the same time I felt very lucky to have such a great opportunity by happenstance.
One of the most embarrassing moments in your professional career?
I took a real bad fall during a performance with Lines Ballet. It happened in Lyon at the Maison de la Dance when we were dancing a piece called “Who Dressed You like a Foreigner?”. During our run of shows in France the critically acclaimed tabla virtuoso, Zakir Hussein, accompanied the dancers for the ballet. We were all very excited to be in the midst of a living legend, and it also came through in our dancing! During one of the shows Zakir played so fast! Like any good percussionist, it was hard to imagine that all of the sounds of the score came from one single musician. Anyhow, I simply could not manage to keep up with Zakir’s mastery during a swift solo. In my efforts, I managed to fall while attempting to change directions during the solo. The loud thud was a bit disheartening for both me and the audience. Luckily I didn’t knock myself out cold, but it did take a few seconds to re- catch the rhythm of the drums and understand my orientation to the proscenium! Hopefully it felt worse then it looked, but it was embarrassing because I couldn’t cover-up or fake – what had happened.
Who has been the most influential person/people in your life? or Career? and why?
Without a doubt, my family. My parents and brother have always been there encouraging me to discover my curiosities. Now that I am a little older, I see that they were there every step of the way, during what felt like ‘dark hours’ (from time-to-time). Having this constant support has helped me confront challenges, and come to terms with the unknown.
One of the hardest things about your job?
Understanding the balance between my personal commitment to my art and my personal commitment to loved ones.
Do you have any goals you still wish to achieve?
Of course, I am learning what those goals are.
A piece of advice for aspiring artists?
Dancing is about much more then perfection. Artists need to be prepared to delve deep inside of themselves in order to ‘bring out’, channel or embody what may be asked of them (…or what they may ask of themselves). Fearless(ness) and curiosity are crucial. Remaining open to the benefits of creating in a collective environment is one of the greatest gifts that artists get to experience.
Photo by © Todd Rosenberg
Photo by © Gregory Batardon
Photo by © Rahi Rezvani
A young Prince. Photo by © Dikayl Rimmasch
Prince and I at the Dance Salad Festival in Houston, Texas USA
Have you seen Prince perform? Have you worked with him? Share your stories in the comments below!