Mr. Cribbett goes to Washington — to dance

From Rantoul Press
August 19, 2009
By Debra Rawlings

Andrew Cribbett will be dancing his way through his senior year in high school — literally.

The Thomasboro teen will be attending Duke Ellington Performing Arts High School and the Washington School of Ballet on scholarships awarded after he performed in the February Youth America Grand Prix dance competition in Chicago.

“I’m expecting to be working very hard,” Cribbett said. “It will be a whole different environment.”

He is looking forward to being surrounded by other dancers. Though a well-liked student and cheerleader at RTHS, he was one of a kind.

“It’ll be easier to relate,” he said. “At RTHS, no one else dances.”

Not as seriously as he does, for sure.

Cribbett has danced since he was a tiny tot. His grandparents, Ken and Nancy Cribbett, put him into dance lessons at the Christine Rich Dance Studio in Savoy as a way to exhaust his seemingly endless supply of energy.

“I spent my first three years in time-out,” he said, smiling.

He loved dance from the start and has studied a variety of forms, including ballet, tap, modern and hip-hop. He found dance to be fun and eventually discovered that it gave him a way to express the emotion he tended to bottle inside.

Dance also supplemented the foundation of discipline laid down by his grandparents and taught him to be patient, he said.

The patience came from studying ballet, which he initially found to be “a little boring”. Rich would not let him quit.

He and partner Becky Ramos won numerous competitions until, in his sophomore and junior years, he took a break from dance. He started gymnastics at Irish’s Gymnastics and was selected to be an RTHS cheerleader.

“It was something new,” he said. “It was fun.”

His return to dance came after he won a competition at the national NAACP African-American Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics.

If everything had gone according to plan, Cribbett would have left for Washington D.C. earlier this summer for an intensive program. A lumbar stress fracture intervened, and he spent most of that time in a back brace — his “turtle shell” — instead.

When he arrives in Washington D.C. on August 20, he’ll have his first glimpse of his new school and his new home. The few clues he has so far have come from D.C. friends that he made at the ACTSO competition. He admitted to being excited and a little nervous.

One thing he is sure about is that he will dance very different roles. Because the dance community in this area is so small, he often danced the principal role.

“The pros get the leads in D.C.,” he said. “I’ve never experienced that. It’ll be something new.”

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