MHS Student Discovers Talent, Receives Statewide Recognition

April 28, 2014

A Monticello High School student is getting some statewide recognition for a talent that was hidden up until last year.

Junior Alex Espinosa had never given dance a chance until the school's drama teacher took a chance on him.

"I stayed after school one day to hear one of my friends sing and Ms. Michel just saw me and she was just like, 'You want to be in a musical?'"

Though he was never one drawn to the bright lights or the stage, the unusually quiet student accepted the offer.

"When I first met him I thought, 'What's he going to do? He's so shy!" said drama teacher Madeline Michel.

But that was Michel's whole reason for picking last year's spring musical, "In The Heights." It called for a diverse cast, reeling in students who have never stepped foot on the school's stage.

Espinosa was one of them.

"I always say they're hiding their light under a bushel, and once you pull them out and you find them, they have an incredible amount of talent," said Michel.

They quickly found out Espinosa may not have the best vocals at MHS, but he sure can dance.

"It's pretty much singing with your feet," he said.

This year, he is a lead dancer and assistant choreographer for the spring musical "Urinetown."

And just one year after discovering his gift, he is getting the chance to grow on an even bigger stage after being accepted into the selective Virginia Governor's School for Performing Arts.

"This is going to open up a world of opportunity for him," said Michel. "This is Alex's calling. He has to be dancing for the rest of his life."

Despite only taking a handful of dance classes in the last year, he impressed the judges at his audition. He will become the first student from the school and Albemarle County to go to the intensive summer program for dance.

"I'm glad I'm dancing right now because I don't know what I'd be doing with my life," he said. "It's just a good feeling for me. It makes me feel safe, calm, really confident about myself."

The Monticello High School stage has him a path and a platform for doing what he loves.

"He's just not as shy anymore because dance, dance has given him a place," said Michel.

Opening night for "Urinetown" is May 8. The show will run through May 11.

On Saturday, May 10, they will perform a "donations only" show at 2:30 p.m. to benefit the Charlottesville Free Clinic.

For more information about the show and how to get tickets, click HERE.

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