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Doctor gives dancers a boost

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Amne Osseyran was one of just three students when United Dance Productions opened its doors.

The company's single studio was housed on Court Street “in a wooden building on stilts”; founder Suzette Harvey barely had enough money to install mirrors.

Dr Osseyran, 9, flourished in the warm, family environment.

“I'd taken lessons at other schools, but my dance life really started at UDP,” she said. “I loved it. It seemed like everyone at school was talking about UDP.”

Fast forward 25 years. UDP is still on Court Street, but in swankier accommodations with 200 students; Dr Osseyran leaves the Island early next year for Jamaica, where she'll work as an intern at the University Hospital of the West Indies.

Ms Harvey was so proud of her former student's accomplishments she named her patron of UDP's Christmas show this weekend.

Dr Osseyran has spent the last month encouraging and inspiring students.

“[They] were just blown away when she first walked in,” Ms Harvey said. “She's beautiful and she has this very cool hip-hop vibe.

“They were stunned when I told them she danced at UDP, and even more stunned when I told them she was now a doctor. It just kept getting better and better for them.”

According to Dr Osseyran, she was a quiet child but came alive in her UDP classes.

“It really helped me with my confidence and gave me a positive outlet,” she said.

She was also very appreciative that Ms Harvey frequently went to bat on her behalf.

“Using my contacts as an alumni of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, I was able to get Amne into their intensive summer dance programme,” the UDP founder explained. “She went at 13, three years earlier than the other students. Her talent got her under the rail.”

Dr Osseyran was a junior understudy when Ms Harvey's Bermuda Dance Company performed in St Kitts. She then taught at UDP until she went away to college.

One thing she regrets is not being able to dance much during her studies.

“I really missed it,” she said. “You can make time for anything you want to do. For most people in my class there was no time, but I made time for dance in the first two years of my studies.

“In my last years I was required to work in hospitals all over Jamaica so I literally couldn't.”

She hopes to get back into dance when she returns to Bermuda to live in a year.

Meanwhile, she's been giving UDP students pointers on technique and encouraging them to considering dance as a career.

“Some parents are worried if their child goes into dance they might have to do waitressing,” she said. “It is important to know that you can end up waitressing with any job — I have doctor friends who are waitressing, because they don't have a job. That mentality should not apply anymore. Your success in academics does not guarantee you a job, any more than being a dancer.”

UDP's Soulful Christmas Show takes place at the Ruth Seaton James Centre for the Performing Arts on Saturday and Sunday at 7pm.

• General admission is $35 and patron tickets are $75 on www.brownpapertickets.com.

Inspiring students: Amne Osseyran, centre, with United Dance Productions performers (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Festive fun: United Dance Productions students rehearse for their Christmas show this weekend (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Soulful show: United Dance Productions students rehearse for their Christmas show this weekend (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Encouraging others: Amne Osseyran, centre, with students from United Dance Productions. Dr Osseyran is patron of UDP's Christmas show (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published December 10, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 10, 2015 at 10:39 am)

Doctor gives dancers a boost

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