Dancer Courtney Lopes On Realising Her Dream

August 25, 2023 | 3 Comments

[Written by Stephen Wright]

Bermudian dancer Courtney Lopes’ career trajectory is a lesson in the power of perseverance.

She always dreamed of joining the acclaimed Mark Morris Dance Group [MMDG], auditioning four times before being accepted into the Brooklyn-based company as a “supplementary dancer”.

A few months later, she was offered a permanent spot, realising an ambition she had almost relinquished.

“I kept auditioning and trying to get jobs in the company, but never got picked,” Ms Lopes, 32, told Bernews.

“In November 2021, they had an audition, and I was like, ‘OK, this is the last time I give it a go’.

“I didn’t get the job, but they hired me as a supplementary dancer to come and do some shows when they needed extra people.

“Mark decided to keep me on full-time about a year ago. It’s almost like I needed to be around for a while for Mark to realise I was meant to be there!

“He’s quite specific about the dancers he brings in. Because of my age, he could almost fast-track me in a way he can’t always do with new, younger dancers.”

Ms Lopes has performed in several MMDG shows, including Pepperland, celebrating the Beatles’ classic album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and L’Allegro.

She is one of ten dancers touring with the company’s latest musical collaboration with Ethan Iverson, The Look of Love: An Evening of Dance to the Music of Burt Bacharach.

“Before Burt died [in February], he got to see the show,” Ms Lopes said. “He gave it his blessing. It was something he wanted the dance group to do.”

Before joining the company, Ms Lopes spent a decade working as a freelance dancer in New York, performing with smaller companies.

She returned to Bermuda in 2020 with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic and began teaching at In Motion School of Dance, where she started dancing aged seven, and contemplated teaching full-time before her final audition.

“The freelance hustle gets exhausting, and it was during Covid when I was like, ‘I can’t do this anymore’,” she said.

“I moved back to Bermuda and was ready to do something different and change it up.

“I’ve wanted this my whole life, but there’s a point when everyone feels like giving up. We always put a time limit on everything, which is unnecessary. Thankfully, I kept persevering, and things worked out.”

Ms Lopes’s natural talent was spotted early on by Lizz Pimentel, the In Motion founder, and aged 14, she left Bermuda to attend the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, continuing her dance studies at SUNY Purchase in New York.

Her ambition was always to become a dancer with the MMDG.

“They always perform with live music; travel the world; it’s everything I love about performing and dancing in one place,” Ms Lopes said.

“It’s one of the only full-time jobs for contemporary dancers in New York City.”

Ms Lopes recently spent two weeks performing an extensive repertoire of the company’s work at the Joyce Theatre in Chelsea, New York. Among those attending the show was Ms Pimentel.

“Lizz surprised for me by coming to watch,” Ms Lopes added. “I get more nervous having her there than anyone else, even after all these years.

“She saw my potential from a young age. She’s a huge reason why I’m doing this.”

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Comments (3)

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  1. Lion Paw says:

    Good for you Courtney your are the epitome of never giving up on dreams. Congratulations and may you reap the benefits from your patience and persistence.

  2. Trudi Pugh says:

    So pleased and proud of you, Courtney! You are the perfect example of perseverance being rewarded. Enjoy!
    Fondly, The Pugh family

  3. Nicky says:

    Congratulations on achieving your dream. Your perseverance is commendable and admirable. Well done!

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