A talented American teenager who started ballet lessons just five years ago has secured a sought-after training program spot at one of the world’s largest professional ballet schools: the Dutch National Ballet Academy in the Netherlands.
17-year-old Jupiter resident Devon Luxton has been selected after a rigorous video audition process as one of 177 dancers from around the world invited to audition at the Grand Audition in Barcelona on February 8-9. , a premier audition opportunity for dancers (ages 17-26) to be seen by directors of several international ballet companies. After the first day, the dancers were reduced to 49 (of which Devon was the only American male dancer), and only 10 of those dancers were offered positions by the corporate bosses. Devon was one of them – accepting a coveted placement that most young dancers can only dream of.
“It was an amazing experience,” Devon said. “I’ve known for some time that Dutch National Ballet was where I wanted to be. I look forward to continuing to train in their pre-professional division from this fall.”
Only 12 male dancers and 12 female dancers from around the world win places each year for the famous two-year training program of the 61-year-old Dutch National Ballet Academy. An opportunity that will also earn Devon an associate’s degree in classical ballet, the intensive program serves as the training ground for the legendary Dutch National Ballet Company, the largest official ballet company in the Netherlands. The program gives talented young dancers the opportunity to prepare for a career with the Dutch National Ballet or another leading international ballet company. Its dancers also perform regularly in popular professional productions of the Dutch National Ballet.
“We are delighted that Devon Luxton is joining the Associate Degree Graduate School of the Dutch National Ballet Academy,” said Ernst Meisner, choreographer and artistic director. “He performed wonderfully well at Barcelona and I look forward to working with him at our Academy this fall.”
Devon’s journey began 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 develops his natural talent. Inspired by the show and subsequent exposure to other dance musicals, Devon, then 11, told his parents he would like to try ballet. His mother enrolled him in her first class on his 12th birthday at Paris Ballet et Danse, the Jupiter school founded in 2009 by former international ballet star Jean-Hugues Feray.
Originally from France, Feray has been a principal dancer in many international companies, including Ballet Florida and Ballet National de Marseille. Along with his school and conservatory, he and his staff focus on teaching ballet in its purest and most original French form, in addition to other dance forms. He knew immediately that Devon had a natural talent that could be cultivated, Feray said.
“Ballet is something that chooses the dancer, and he absolutely chose Devon,” he said. “He’s incredibly gifted by nature, so we started with the basics of ballet and he progressed quickly from there. I’m so proud of him and the many hours of training that went into his success.”
Within 18 months of beginning training, Devon traveled to Kansas City, Missouri to compete in the regional Youth America Grand Prix dance competition, often referred to as the “Ballet Olympics.” Against students who had been training for many years, Devon won first place – then went on to dance in the finals in New York. In the years that followed, he was selected for the final each year and was offered numerous scholarships and opportunities. He took intensive summer courses at famous institutions such as the Paris Opera Ballet (where Feray received his training), the Joffrey Ballet and the Dutch National Ballet Academy, which reinforced his love for ballet. school and the company.
“Devon has been recruited for many renowned residential training programs over the years, but we have always felt that he already received 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 received elite training at Paris Ballet which is comparable to some of the best international ballet schools in the world.”
Meisner of the Dutch National Ballet Academy praised Feray for Devon’s progress.
“Devon has improved so much since I last saw him on our summer schedule,” he said.
And ballet isn’t Devon’s only gift. A trained visual artist, Devon is a senior digital media specialist at the AW Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, a highly competitive magnet school that consistently ranks in the top 2% of high schools in the nation. After school and on weekends, he spent six days a week training with Feray at the Ballet de Paris.
Before moving to Amsterdam in the fall, Devon will attend intensive summer scholarship sessions at the Princess Grace Academy of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo and the famous institution familiar to Billy Elliott fans: the Royal Ballet School of London. Devon will be traveling 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 next three 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.
“It’s a unique opportunity for the public to see all of the most advanced dancers from my school perform before they leave to start a professional career, including Devon,” Feray said. “I would like to encourage everyone to come and see the incredible performances and talented dancers we have here at Paris Ballet.”
Tickets for all upcoming Ballet de Paris shows 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.