(PRESS RELEASE)_February 22, 2022 (Jupiter, Fla.) — It’s a real-life Billy Elliot story.
Similar to the young hero of the Broadway blockbuster and film, a talented American teen who started ballet classes only five years ago has earned a sought-after training program spot at one of the world's foremost professional ballet schools: the Dutch National Ballet Academy in The Netherlands.
Jupiter resident Devon Luxton, 17, was selected through a rigorous video audition process as one of 177 dancers worldwide invited to audition at Barcelona’s Grand Audition on February 8 and 9, a prominent audition opportunity for dancers (ages 17-26) to be seen by directors of multiple international ballet companies. After the first day, the dancers were narrowed down to 49 (of whom Devon was the only American male dancer), and only 10 of those dancers were offered positions by company directors. Devon was one of them — accepting a coveted placement that most young dancers can only dream of.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Devon. “I’ve known for some time that the Dutch National Ballet was where I wanted to be. I can’t wait to continue training in their pre-professional division starting this fall.”
Only 12 male dancers and 12 female dancers from across the world earn spots each year for the 61-year-old Dutch National Ballet Academy’s celebrated two-year training program. An opportunity that will also earn Devon an associate’s degree in classical ballet, the intensive program serves as a training ground for the legendary Dutch National Ballet Company, the official and largest ballet company in the Netherlands. The program gives talented young dancers the opportunity to prepare for a career with Dutch National Ballet or another leading international ballet company. Its dancers also regularly perform in popular professional productions by Dutch National Ballet.
“We are thrilled that Devon Luxton will join Dutch National Ballet Academy’s Associate Degree upper school,” said Ernst Meisner, choreographer and artistic director. “He performed wonderfully well in Barcelona and I look forward to working with him at our Academy this fall.”
Devon’s journey started just five years ago, when he saw a regional production of Billy Elliot: The Musical, the hit musical about a boy who discovers ballet and the teacher who fosters his natural talent. Inspired by the show and subsequent exposure to other dance musicals, Devon, then 11, told his parents he’d like to try ballet. His mother enrolled him in his first class on his 12th birthday at Paris Ballet and Dance, the Jupiter school founded in 2009 by former international ballet star Jean-Hugues Feray.
A native of France, Feray served as a principal dancer with many international companies, including Ballet Florida and National Ballet de Marseille. With both his school and conservatory, he and his staff focus on teaching ballet in its purest, original French form, in addition to other forms of dance. He knew immediately that Devon had natural talent that could be cultivated, Feray said.
“Ballet is something that chooses the dancer, and it absolutely chose Devon,” he said. “He is incredibly naturally talented, so we started with the fundamentals of ballet and he progressed quickly from there. I am so proud of him and his many hours of training that have earned his success.”
Within 18 months of starting training, Devon traveled to Kansas City, Mo., to compete in the regional dance competition Youth America Grand Prix, often referred to as the “Olympics of ballet.” Up against students who had been training for many years, Devon won first place — then went on to dance in the New York finals. In the years since, he has been selected for the finals every year and has been offered numerous scholarships and opportunities. He has attended summer intensives at such famed institutions as the Paris Opera Ballet (where Feray received his training), Joffrey Ballet and the Dutch National Ballet Academy, which solidified his love for the school and company.
“Devon has been recruited for many renowned residential training programs through the years, but we’ve always felt that he’s already getting exceptional ballet training at Paris Ballet and Dance,” said Julie Luxton, his mother. “His success is a testament to Jean-Hugues Feray, who is an extraordinary teacher. Devon has received elite training at Paris Ballet that is comparable with some of the best international ballet schools in the world.”
Meisner of the Dutch National Ballet Academy congratulated Feray for Devon’s progress.
“Devon has improved so much since I last saw him in our summer program,” he said.
And ballet isn’t Devon’s only gift. A skilled visual artist, Devon is a senior digital media major at West Palm Beach’s A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, a highly competitive magnet school that consistently ranks among the top 2 percent of high schools nationwide. After school and on weekends, he spends six days per week training with Feray at Paris Ballet.
Prior to moving to Amsterdam in the fall, Devon will attend summer intensive sessions on scholarship at Princess Grace Academy at Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo and the famed institution familiar to Billy Elliott fans: the Royal Ballet School in London. Devon will travel this month to compete in the regional competition where it all began: the Youth America Grand Prix regional competition in Kansas City, Mo. He can also be seen in Paris Ballet’s three upcoming performances at The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, including the upcoming Mixed Bill: An Evening of Dance on March 20.
“This is a unique opportunity for audiences to see all of my school’s most advanced dancers perform before they leave to start professional careers, including Devon,” Feray said. “I’d like to encourage everyone to come and see the incredible performances and talented dancers that we have here at Paris Ballet.”
Tickets to all upcoming Paris Ballet performances at the Kravis Center are currently on sale. For tickets and more information, call the box office at (561) 832-7469 or visit Kravis.org.
Exploring what to see and do in North Palm Beach and the South Florida area. Your hosts are Pam and Gerry Barker.
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