This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference from our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.
A Prince George’s County native says he has always been goal oriented, and one of his goals was to dance at the Kennedy Center in D.C. Now, he’ll get to see his dreams come true as he joins the Joffrey Ballet company in a performance there this week.
Brian Bennett, of Lanham, Maryland, will perform “Anna Karenina” with one of the country’s premier dance companies, the Joffrey Ballet, this Wednesday, April 5, through Sunday, April 9.
The ballet brings Russian author Leo Tolstoy’s 1878 novel to life. Choreographed by Yuri Possokhov and composed by Ilya Demutsky, the ballet uses intricate movement to adapt Tolstoy’s “riveting tale of desire and passion in groundbreaking fashion,” according to its website.
Bennett says it will be a dream come true.
“I’m really excited. I feel like going from Lanham to now is going to just feel so full circle,” he said.
After attending undergrad at Butler University, a private college in Indianapolis, Bennett joined the Oregon Ballet Theatre in Portland. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic put a temporary hold on his career.
Bennett said he spent that downtime learning more about the history of ballet. And then one day, he got a call from the Joffrey Ballet.
Bennett will play several roles during the play including a ballroom dancer and a peasant dancer. It’s Bennett’s second season with the ballet company.
According to Bennett, the Chicago-based ballet company is a diverse group.
“A kid being from Lanham coming and being able to share the stage with people from Japan and Brazil and Italy and Spain is going to be one for the books in my life.”
So far, it’s been a life in preparation for this moment.
Bennett began practicing jazz dance at the age of five, attended Thomas G. Pullen Creative and Performing Arts School in Landover, and began studying ballet in high school at the Baltimore School for the Arts.
Bennett said his main influences include his parents, Karl and Arnita Bennett, and teachers like Anton Wilson who taught him to “not only to look at dance from the outside but figure out how you can create an artistic experience from within.”
“At the beginning of my career, I wanted to be a storyteller and ballet was the perfect medium for me to do that,” he said.