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Talented teen sets sights on Broadway

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Young dancer Simeon Neeld’s goals include practicing his art on the biggest of stages. (Submitted Photo/Stephanie DeFranco Photography)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

By Amy Lignor
Special to the Daily Record

Simeon Neeld, a 13-year-old from Dexter, said, “I began tumbling at the age of 3.”

In only a decade, however, Simeon and his family saw that skill grow into an incredible dancing talent. In fact, not only has he shown himself to be better than dancers twice his age, he’s also achieved excellence in the genres of jazz, ballet, hip-hop and contemporary/modern dance … to name just a few.

His mother, Nicole, and father, Russell, owned a cheer gym in Roswell for a time, which first opened the door to the dance world for Simeon. Always there, “watching the flips, turns and other dance moves,” that the Goddard Rockets cheerleaders and Roswell High School’s Charlie’s Angels Dance Team were honing, Simeon says, “I just watched and learned from them. That’s how I first learned how to flip. The passion for it was already a part of me.”

Russell, a proud dad, looks back on that time with a smile. “When he was growing up, he would watch the girls come and dance and he’d jump right into the middle of things and try to do the moves.”

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Almost as if he had a photographic memory, Simeon could see a move once or twice and learn it right away. From round-offs to back handsprings, he could do it all. “From the age of 3,” his father added, “we knew that gift was something special.”

Nicole continued, “Back then he was the only boy around who was dancing. Little boys his age were into football and baseball … so he’s always been that unique guy.”

Now, the term “unique” can at times be a heavy weight to carry. Simeon, a very humble talent, nodded at that comment. Though admitting it was a bit difficult at times to be a stand-out, he also shrugged it off. “People can say whatever they want, but I don’t care about that. I love dance, and I am so excited about the future.”

As well he should be. Working more than 100 hours to choreograph his own routine, Simeon was getting ready to embark on a trip that could change his life forever. After years of practice, as well as summer programs and being a member of “Broadway Bound Kids,” a youth performing group offering musical theater training for young performers, Simeon is now heading to Santa Fe to perform his own creation for the New Mexico School for the Arts. This four-year charter/public high school serves students across the state with rigorous, award-winning arts and academic education. Like Juilliard, in New York, they focus on a variety of creative disciplines, such as acting, dancing, writing and singing.

Suffice it to say, this audition is a big opportunity for a young man who began his actual dance training at The Studio+ in Roswell, where dancers have studied for more than 50 years. Working with Jennifer Wolfe and other teachers over time, Simeon entered Studio+ at the age of 7. At the beginning, he announced he would dive into the hip-hop world. “But,” he said, “at the time, I said I wasn’t taking any other ‘girlie’ dance class.” His teacher quickly saw Simeon’s talent, however, and suggested he should go further by taking a ballet/tap combination.

“I now dance about 14 hours a week,” he said.

“And if he could skip school and do only that, I believe he would,” Nicole laughed.

Not only is he a skilled dancer, but he’s also a true fan. “I love the show ‘World of Dance’ and I look up to Michael Dameski; he’s one of my inspirations.” For those unaware, Dameski was the winner of that competition in 2018.

An exciting trip will be coming up soon.

“I auditioned a couple weeks back and was accepted, so this summer I’m going to the Joffrey School of Ballet in New York City,” Simeon said, his eyes filled with excitement. Not only will that be an incredible learning experience, but it’s also nice to get a view of The Big Apple, especially considering, ‘In 10 years, I want to be on Broadway,’” Simeon has decided.

When he’s older, he would like to switch gears at some point and take on the role of trainer: “My dream is to open a studio in Hawaii,” he said.

When it comes to advice, Simeon wants other kids to achieve their goals. “I think everybody should be happy with their talents, and not be scared. Don’t worry about what people say. They’re not your true friends if they don’t support you.”

One of Simeon’s performances can be viewed online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9YjtvrkBzk.

“When I’m dancing,” he said, “I forget everything else.”

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