March 25, 2003 – International name recognition isn't something St. Croix's Alexander E. Simon has yet attained at the age of 22, but it's on his list of attainables for five years down the road.
Simon is a member of the Koresh Dance Company and one of its eight dancers who will perform Saturday night at the Reichhold Center for the Arts. He joined the Philadelphia-based company in a little over three years ago at the invitation of founder, artistic director and choreographer Ronen Koresh.
Koresh says he seeks to recruit to his dance company people who "have honesty and truth in their work," truth that "is expressed in very unique style. Not huge statements that are overblown, but just the simple truth." (See "Koresh Dance draws on wide-ranging roots".)
What Simon finds most appealing as a dancer about the Koresh company "is the family bond we share. We have created a family environment that most major companies don't have. Most companies dwell on competition among themselves; but with us, we admire everyone's ability for what they bring to the table."
His own areas of expertise are ballet, jazz and hip-hop.
Simon is the son of Martha Santiago and Rufus Simon. A native Crucian, he graduated from Central High School in 1998. "All of my family except my mom and brother still live on St. Croix," he says. "My brother and mother live in Puerto Rico."
As a teenager, he was lured by the bright lights of show biz before being swept off his feet, so to speak, by dance. "I was in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' at Island Center for the Performing Arts in 1993," he recalls, "and also 'Guys and Dolls' in 1994."
He got his first formal dance training in '94, when he joined St. Croix's Pointe Dance Academy, under the direction of Heidi Wright and Sonja Dickerson. He studied with them for two years, but it was the first day that made the biggest difference in his life.
"As a young boy, I was involved in baseball and had a love for tennis," Simon relates — in other words, he led a normal young-male life. And yet, "I knew that I wanted to be a professional dancer ever since I stepped into class. I was so fascinated with every intricate step of the art form that it became a part of me that first day."
He might not have followed his instincts, thought, had it not been for the influence of a peer at Pointe. "As a boy, I felt very intimidated" about dance, he says — "what my friends would think and how my family would react to me dancing. I was actually motivated by another male dancer, Edmond Giles, who studied at the same academy … I never knew men had the ability to move gracefully yet so athletically."
Once he committed to his development and discipline as a dancer, doors began to open. In 1995, he studied with Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico, and the following the summer he received a full scholarship to study with the Joffrey Ballet School, "where I had the opportunity to work with some of New York's finest teachers."
"At both institutions we had to train extensively in ballet and jazz," he notes.
Three seasons ago, he was invited to join Koresh Dance Company by Roni Koresh himself. "He was a professor at the [Philadelphia] University of the Arts, where I studied for two years," Simon explains. "I danced in his ensemble several times, and I guess everyone enjoyed my professionalism as a dancer and the quality of my movement."
Simon says his mentors and role models include his mother, who "has been the reason for me accomplishing my dreams and success as a young male dancer. Her motivation gives me hope to see into the new." He also credits "my dance teachers back home," saying that Wright, Dickerson and Lisa Acosta at Pointe Academy "made me a stronger individual, not just in dance, but outside the art form as well. I am now more in control of my choices and destination."
But most of all, Simon adds, "my biggest mentor has been Roni Koresh. He has transformed me into the person I am today. He is a father figure, a brother at times, and a close friend."
As a dance professional, Simon has also performed in and choreographed such musicals as "Evita" and "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." He says he prefers straight dance to shows, though. "I feel more comfortable dancing in pure dance works than having to sing, dance and act in a Broadway musical," he says. "Preparing for a show is more about being focused on what you're doing. There's no real trick to it — 'just do it.'"
For the last four years, he also has been teaching dance professionally. He currently conducts classes at three dance centers in the Philadelphia area. Meantime, "I've had the opportunity to showcase choreography in Washington, D.C., at the 2002 Golden Scissors Awards, and at the 76ers prime time game at the First Union Center in Philadelphia."
Simon is reluctant to project "what or where I'll be" five years from now. But he offers these possible scenarios: "I imagine myself still dancing, perhaps opening a dance academy in Hawaii, choreographing internationally, and having my name recognized upon mention."
Those wishing to travel to St. Thomas from St. Croix for Saturday's performance at the Reichhold Center can take advantage of land and air packages put together by the Reichhold, Seaborne Airlines and a variety of participating hotels. See "Packages available to see Koresh at Reichhold".)

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