Face Time: Nettie Gentempo, ringleader of a dancing circus

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NORWAY – A dance instructor. A mother and teacher to her home-schooled children. And co-creator of a dance circus?

Still a year away from 30, when Nettie Gentempo isn’t dealing with all of the minutiae that comes with owning and operating a dance studio on Main Street or serving as a mom and teacher to her kids, she’s particularly busy these summer days choreographing performances for the dance circus she and her sister started in 2005.

Gentempo has shown the same versatility in her dancing as she has in her personal life. That versatility has been on full display throughout the Nevaeh Dance Circus’ free summer series, which takes place on the fourth Saturday of the summer months.

During the summer series, dancers with the Nevaeh Dance Circus, with assistance from actors and circus performers, participate in unique productions at Longley Square on Main Street.

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Gentempo and the dancers at the Nevaeh Dance Circus are preparing for their final performance of the summer at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26.

“We had a decent turnout in June and a fantastic turnout in July,” Gentempo said. “I feel like if that pattern continues, then August will have our largest turnout yet.”

Name: Nettie Gentempo

Age: 29

Occupation: Dance instructor, artistic director of Nevaeh Dance Circus, owner and operator of Nevaeh Dance Studio, a farmer’s wife, a mother and a teacher.

Hometown: Sumner

How did you get into dancing? My mother had a dance studio when I was 4 or 5 years old in Vermont called Green Mountain Ballet. She went to ballerina school and had learned to be a dancer. Our house was always full of music and dance. It’s always been a part of my life. I took classes all throughout my childhood and teenage years. It’s become a part of my identity.

When did you decide that it was time to create a dance company? In high school, when I was 15 or 16 years old, (my sister and) I just wanted to dance more. We didn’t have enough opportunities to get out and perform. We always danced at home and took classes, but we wanted to be out there more and doing what we love. That’s when we decided to start the Nevaeh Dance Company. Around that time, I started teaching dance classes too. In 2016, we decided to change it from Nevaeh Dance Company to the Nevaeh Dance Circus. We figured that it’s dance that we’re doing, but we wanted it to be more about the different types of movement and skills that we have.

Do you have a dancer, whether someone in your own life or a professional dancer, that you view as an influence? One of the influences to my style of dancing is choreographer Bob Fosse and the work he did on the “Chicago” musical. I feel that energy in our choreography, our style of dancing, and how we move. I don’t know. Everyone draws their own influence from different things. Our dancing style is also mixed with circus elements and interesting costume-wear.

My sister’s movements also influence me. When she’s feeling the music, it’s inspiring to me. I’ve picked up a lot of different things from different dancers, but in my mind, I think about my sister and her movements as inspiration.

Over the years that the Nevaeh Dance Circus has been around, we’ve had all sorts of dancers come through, whether they were belly dancers, break dancers or Bollywood dancers. Our group has always evolved and taken something new as new people come through, so it’s hard to pin down one style that has influenced us. So many people have brought different things to it.

What is the Nevaeh Dance Circus planning to do for its final summer series performance? The August performance is called “The Dark Side of Somewhere.” It’s a performance done to the entire Pink Floyd album “The Dark Side of the Moon.” We choreographed pieces to the entire album. We are going to have Fred Garbo do a guest performance in the show to the song “Any Colour You Like,” and Debi Irons (of Art Moves Dance Studio) will choreograph and perform to the song “Us and Them.” For the song “The Great Gig in the Sky,” one of the dancers in our company will do an aerial hoop piece. The song “On the Run” will also use LED hula hoops in its choreography. 

We did this show back in 2011 on our farm, and Debi Irons was a part of that performance as well. We’re taking that original choreography from a few years back and expanding upon it and trying to add more to what we did originally. We want to make it better than we did the first time around.

Where do you want to see the Nevaeh Dance Circus go from here? I’d like for us to be more organized. I want to be out there doing not just three performances for the summer series but something that carries into the fall. I’d like to be more involved in the community, and I want all of us at the Nevaeh Dance Circus to keep upping our game and getting better at our skills. We’re already good, but I want us to get even better.

Nettie Gentempo, 29, practices dancing with hula hoops at the Nevaeh Dance Studio on Main Street. Gentempo is the artistic director of the Nevaeh Dance Circus and owner and operator of the Nevaeh Dance Studio.
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