Southold Dance Theater's Assistant Artistic Director, Fiona Cameron-Martin, Exemplifies Expertise, Passion for Teaching Ballet
Southold Dance Theatre is pleased to announce that Fiona Cameron-Martin has been appointed to the position of Assistant Artistic Director. Fiona, who joined Southold as faculty member in 2016, will also continue in her roles as the Children’s Coordinator and a faculty member. She also offers private lessons for beginning and pre-professional students. In her position as Assistant Artistic Director, she assists Artistic Director Calin Radulescu with preparing choreography, rehearsals, and presentations of Southold’s annual full-length productions and public performances.
Fiona is eager for success in her new role. Most immediately, she is interested in curriculum development and has a keen sense of incorporating the famous Vaganova Method as a structured and safe way of training dancers. Her long-term vision is to help the school move into a bigger facility and to open a professional training division alongside Southold’s current pre-professional program. Ultimately, Fiona wants her dance students to know the most important lesson of all, “Before you achieve, you must believe in yourself!”
Fiona credits her own pre-professional ballet training with world-renowned performers for developing a deep commitment to her craft. As a child in Hong Kong and Australia, she began dancing seriously at the young age of five and was surrounded by professional dancers throughout her youth as she trained as a scholarship student with the Australian Ballet School. She recalls the moments of intensity and difficulty during these years as being the primary fuel for her lifelong passion for dance. “That feeling you get when you step on stage is still one of the best feelings in the world,” Cameron-Martin said. With her passion ignited, she realized a career in professional dance would be her path.
After graduation, she journeyed to Europe and performed in galas all over London as a member of the New English Ballet Theater. Later, she danced for the Opera National Bucharesti (Romanian National Ballet in Bucharest) and had the tremendous opportunity to work under Artistic Director Johan Kobborg, a world-renowned choreographer and principal dancer with the "Royal Danish Ballet" and the "Royal Ballet of London.” Through many high-profile solo and couples performances, she established deep connections to the work of faculty members who spent time to train her. She learned the importance of confidence, tenacity, and developed a love of ballet that did not end on the stage. “If you truly want to succeed as a dancer, you need to dedicate yourself to this art form,” Fiona said. In her teaching, she recommends students learn the music, history, and profiles of legendary dancers in addition to mastering technical training and positions like the tendu and plie.
Inspired by the elite training she received from childhood through her professional career in Europe, she became more interested in passing on knowledge to youth and quickly developed a passion for teaching. Fiona Cameron Martin joined Southold Dance Theater in South Bend, Indiana as a faculty member in 2016. It didn’t take long for her to realize that, “The students can do anything. They are resilient and strong. If you give them enough time they will blow your expectations away!” At Southold Dance Theater, as the Children’s Coordinator, she operates under the philosophy that children can and should learn how to work professionally from a young age and these values will lead them to success in dance, or any other career path they choose.
But for Fiona, dance is more than a serious career, it’s fun too. She believes that part of growing in skill means having the patience to improve and having fun with yourself along the way. Like many new moms, Fiona is devoted to making life fun for both her students and her infant daughter. In a life devoted to dance, she also enjoys summers in the sunshine, the beach, cycling, and everything related to spending time with her family.
Senior Hannah Gregor danced the role of "Marie" in The Nutcracker in 2019 and 2020, but her experience was quite different the second time around, due to the global pandemic.
My name is Hannah Gregor, and I’ve been dancing with Southold Dance Theater for 13 years. Our upcoming show of Cinderella in the spring will sadly be my last time performing alongside my Southold Family. But this has me thinking about all the fun times I’ve had over the years…
In 2019, for our annual performance of The Nutcracker, I got the chance to dance the role of “Marie”! It was such an incredible opportunity, and I made so many fun memories over the months leading up to the shows and in the performances as well! “Nutcracker season,” as we like to call it, was over way too soon. Performing on the beautiful stage at The Morris Performing Arts Center, in front of thousands of people, is an indescribable experience! I’ll look back and cherish those memories for years to come. The moment the curtain closed at the end of the second act of our final show, I already missed it. I even missed the nervous feeling you get when you know it’s almost time for your entrance to take your place on stage. Reflecting on the experience after the last 2019 performance, I couldn’t help asking myself questions every dancer asks themselves: “If I’m lucky enough to dance this role again, what can I do better? What can I continue to work on to improve my dancing?”
When 2020 hit, no one knew what our future would look like. We thought it would be impossible for us to perform in what would be my last year of The Nutcracker. But Southold’s dedicated team didn’t give up. They wanted their students (and the rest of the community!) to still be able to partake in the 50-year-long Christmastime tradition of Southold’s The Nutcracker. They worked extra hard for us to have that opportunity, and again I danced the role of “Marie”. The cast and people behind the scenes practiced safety protocols to protect everyone from COVID-19. Due to safety precautions, things looked quite different this year. There was no stage to dance on, there were fewer dancers in the Corps de Ballet pieces to be socially distanced, and we wore specially made masks so our faces could be seen while keeping us protected. Southold was able to put on another beautiful production!
I’m very thankful to have had the chance to dance as “Marie”, not once, but twice! Even though the experiences were much different, I had so much fun both years!
Gregor dancing "Marie" in SDT's The Nutcracker in December 2019.
A brief Q & A with
Q: Where did you study dance?
A: ACT (Acting Conservatory Theatre) and Rockford College
Q: If you could live in any other city anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
A: Somewhere near the Mediterranean Sea, I think the languages are amazing. I would love to learn how to speak them along with taking in the culture. Plus it seems like it is warmer there!
Q: If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
A: That is so hard as I Love Music! "Word Up" by Cameo, "It's oh so Quiet" by Bjork, "Keep On" by D Train.
Q: What is the one thing you would want a stranger to remember about you after meeting you for the first time?
A: That I love to laugh!
Q: What is one thing about dance that is important to our society, culture, and young people?
A: That [dance] is for EVERYONE! There are so many styles, so many people that can ALL be represented in some way.
Youth American Grand Prix 2020
Eleven Southold dancers participated in the 2020 Regional Youth America Grand Prix competition in Indianapolis, March 5-8. YAGP is a prestigious International Ballet competition with 25 regional locations and eight international locations that include 12,000 dancers annually. Eight of Southold’s dancers competed in a total of 11 solo variations in classical and contemporary dance. Southold Dance Theater is proud to announce that Frederick Stuckwisch took 1st Place in the Men’s Senior Classical Division and Ben Zusi placed 2nd. Both of these young men were invited to compete in the International Finals in NYC (which has subsequently been canceled.) Southold’s ensemble of eight dancers placed in the Top 6 in the Ensemble Division. On the basis of their YAGP performance, these ensemble dancers were all offered positions, with no auditions necessary, in a Summer Intensive Program in Tampa, Florida. Southold takes great pride in our dancers’ accomplishments and in their deportment at the competition as they supported and valued each other and their competitors.
Congratulations to our YAGP Participants
Ainsley Hennel, Jillian Henning, Kendra Mohnke, Regina Murphy, Sophie O’Brien, Olivia Ritschard, Mia Sheppard, Frederick Stuckwisch, Teagan Wright, Ben Zusi, and Julia Zusi.
Southold names new executive director
Southold Dance Theater welcomes Veronica Rog as Executive Director. As Executive Director, Rog will lead engagement initiatives, community partnerships, development efforts, and oversee programming, performances, and long-range vision for the organization.
Rog brings ten years of professional experience in development, community outreach, engagement, grant writing, and advancement with not-for-profit organizations, and a passion for the arts, children’s enrichment programs, and community engagement. She holds a Master of Public Affairs in Nonprofit Management from Indiana University Bloomington and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chinese and Film, Television, Theater from University of Notre Dame.
“Ms. Rog is an outstanding addition to Southold Dance Theater and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the organization. We are thrilled to have her step into this important leadership position.” said board President Chantelle Snyder.
Most recently, Ms. Rog served as Chief Development Officer for Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County, supervising fundraising, strategic alliances, and programming. Kozelichki is a graduate of the Leadership South Bend/Mishawaka Signature Program class 46.
Please join us in welcoming Veronica to the Southold community!