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Man Behind Alvin Ailey Dance Company Returns To His S. Fla. Roots

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Robert Battle, dance phenom and Northwestern High grad, returns to the school to mentor young dancers. (CBS4)

Robert Battle, dance phenom and Northwestern High grad, returns to the school to mentor young dancers. (CBS4)

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MIAMI (CBS4) – It’s no revelation, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is one of the leading dance companies in the world, and now they’re in town at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

The show’s creative director, Robert Battle, is a South Florida native who is excited about bringing his successes home.

Battle told CBS4’s Rhiannon Ally that his years at Northwestern Senior High made him the performer and artist he is today. He recently returned to Northwestern to watch dance students perform and offer them insight into the world of dance.

Students, like 9th grader Misha Michele were excited to have him watch them perform.

“Dancing lets go of all emotions, everything you’re going through. It guides me,” said Michele.

Battle was named creative director last summer. He said it’s a position that humbles him because of the man that started it all: Alvin Ailey himself.

“This all started with a dream and a vision one black man in the south who wanted to say something and look at what it’s grown to be.” said Battle.

Battle started dancing as a young man in the Magic City. He attended Northwestern during his freshman and sophomore years in school, and confessed that he spent most of his time dancing and day-dreaming.

“I used to sit in the tree in backyard and imagine performing one day,” said Battle. “This is where it all began.”

And it wasn’t easy. Battle said he had support for his dancing from family, some of his teachers, and others who pushed him toward greatness. He said that’s one of the reasons it’s so important to give back to a younger generation.

“Sharing my success with my hometown is important, it reminds me of who I am.”

The Ailey organization is known for using dance to educate at schools all over the country through their “Revelations” program. It offers students a week long in-depth study of the roll dance plays in language arts and social studies.

“It inspires young people because you use your body to express something positive or to express something emotional. It liberates you,” said Battle.

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will be performing through Sunday, February 26, 2012 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

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