“I took my first ballet class at New Orleans Dance Academy on Magazine Street when I was 13,” said Edward Spots, a former dancer with Alvin Ailey II who has recently moved back to New Orleans to build up the dance community in his hometown.
Spots’s interest in dance was first sparked when he attended New Orleans Charter Middle School, and a friend convinced him to join her dance elective. “They needed some boys to lift the girls,” Spots explained.
After that, Spots fell completely in love with dance, specifically ballet. He began taking regular classes at the New Orleans Dance Academy and with the New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA). “[Connecticut-based dance company] MOMIX, brought in by NOBA, was the first professional dance performance I ever saw,” he said.
At the age of 16, Spots was accepted to the Walnut Hill School, which he attended until he graduated and moved to New York to dance with Alvin Ailey II. Spots toured the globe with Alvin Ailey II, visiting seven countries and cities all over the United States, including New Orleans.
“When I came with Alvin Ailey II, all my fellow dancers would ask me why there wasn’t a bigger dance scene in New Orleans,” Spots said. “Dancers love it here!”
Starting this Friday, Feb. 27, Spots, along other visiting dancers, will compete in the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition (VKIBC) at Loyola University in New Orleans. Spots sees the competition as a way to get to know key players in the New Orleans dance community. The competition is open to the public.
“New Orleans is very cultured in the sense that there’s great music and food, but dancers in New Orleans leave to dance,” Spots said. “I think that’s changing. New Orleans is moving forward. I want to be a part of that movement.”
20 Questions with Edward Spots
1. Who is your favorite New Orleanian, dead or alive, real or imagined?
Drew Brees. He’s my favorite quarterback. And Michael Lewis — he wrote Moneyball and The Blind Side.
2. What first brought you to New Orleans?
I was born here. I left because I felt like dance in New Orleans wasn’t very popular, but I wanted to move back home because I miss this city so much.
3. In your opinion – what’s the best neighborhood in New Orleans?
I love different parts of the city for different reasons. I love Magazine Street, from Sophie B. Wright Park all the way up to Whole Foods. I also love the Audubon area up by Tulane. It’s one of the most beautiful areas in the city. And for nightlife, I love Frenchmen Street.
4. City Park or Audubon Park?
Audubon Park, hands down.
5. Describe the best meal you’ve eaten in New Orleans?
My grandma makes the best gumbo in the world. Whenever I want good New Orleans food, I go to her.
6. Where’s your favorite brunch spot?
7. What’s your favorite po-boy? Where do you go to get it?
My favorite po-boy is fried shrimp, and I love Soul Seafood on Washington and La Salle.
8. You’ve got friends visiting and it’s their first time in New Orleans – where are you taking them?
9. What’s your favorite neighborhood bar?
10. What is your favorite New Orleans cocktail and where do you go to get it?
They have the best Long Island Iced Tea at 700 Club, a mixed gay/straight club in the French Quarter. You only need one and you’re good for the whole night.
11. Snowball or daiquiri? Where from and what flavor?
I like a pina colada snowball from SnoWizard on Magazine Street.
12. Best spot to see live music?
New Orleans has great live music anywhere you go, but when I want to see something special, I go to the House of Blues.
13. Favorite New Orleans musician or band?
14. Favorite New Orleans Festival?
Hands down, Jazz Fest.
15. Favorite Mardi Gras parade?
Muses. I love Muses!
16. Where do you shop in New Orleans?
17. What is your favorite New Orleans museum?
18. Where do you go to watch The Saints play?
Usually a friend’s house.
19. Describe New Orleans in one word.
20. When was the last time you fell in love with New Orleans and why?
Recently. This past Mardi Gras was my first one since Katrina! Mardi Gras is so different as an adult. I have loved watching parades with my cousins. I guess I forgot that NOLA could be so cool! I’ve grown to love it even more.