If you’re lucky enough to observe a dance class at the Oakland School for the Arts you quickly learn that dance is WORK.
For the young black men who study dance with Artistic Director/Choreographer Reginald Ray-Savage at OSA, the experience offers a rare and unique discipline in not only creative movement and performance but how to BE in the world. Like most of his students, they find themselves being driven to achieve their “personal best” not only in dance performances but in the classroom and in life itself. If they are lucky enough to be under the tutelage of Ray-Savage, their dance training offers them a lesson in classical black art inspired by the music of Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, and other jazz greats. For many young black men in his training, dance offers a way “to leap across” the so-called achievement gap.
Many of his students have gone on to dance with Garth Fagan Dance, The Oakland Ballet, Philadanco, as well as been accepted to the Ailey School. In addition to teaching, Ray-Savage also has his own dance company, Savage Jazz Dance Company.
Ray-Savage began dancing at Katherine Dunham’s Performing Arts Training Center in East St.Louis, IL, where he studied with such great Dunham company alumni as Norman Davis, Lenwood Morris, and his mentor Archie Savage. His training with these legendary dancers has informed his teaching style and choreography.
But mostly, it is his unconventional and passionate approach to dance as a way to challenge to the next generation of artistic leaders that marks him as a true community Game Changer.