Local dancer hits the big-time

NEWBURGH - A year after his 2014 graduation from Newburgh Free Academy, Howard Johnson made a decision to follow his dream. He moved to Los Angeles to pursue his passion for dance.

Now he's a member of a dance troupe competing on the NBC television show "World of Dance" airing every Tuesday night at 10 p.m. Watch his group, Embodiment, as they work over the course of the next two and a half months to win $1 million.

Johnson is also a professional dancer with Revel Dance Convention, traveling around the country with a team providing classes, workshops and performances, visiting 15-20 cities a year.

He's doing what he loves and wants others to know they too can follow a dream. "I felt like I needed to do something that brings Newburgh a little more positivity, It’s kind of a rough city; it’s hard because not everyone’s life is flowers and roses. I want to spread some positivity and inspiration," Johnson says. "A lot of friends are inspired by me for reaching for my dreams."

And these friends have encouraged him to share his story, Johnson says.

"I started dancing when I was a senior in high school," Johnson says. He danced on stage as a member of the Jets gang in the NFS production of "West Side Story." But he followed convention and went off to college, where he studied business management and pastry art at  SUNY Orange's Newburgh campus. That wasn't clicking for him and the call to follow that dream became harder to ignore.

Despite coming to the art late he'd discovered that dance was his true passion, and he credits his high school teacher Mandy Clifford, head of the dance department, for encouraging him. "She basically took me under her wing, teaching me everything about dance."

Now he knows it was the right move for him to head out to L.A., where he has gained more experience and is practicing his art. Catch the show and see Johnson and Embodiment dance for "World of Dance" judges including Jennifer Lopez, Ne-Yo and Derek Hough.

-Beth Kalet
 

Sculpture up for auction

GOSHEN – A bronze sculpture by Claudia Steinley Shelhamer will be offered at live auction Sunday on Hall of Fame Night at the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame.

From the collection of late Hall of Famer Norman Woolworth, Shelhamer’s 1989 detailed equine group “Down on the Farm,” has been described in a notice from the Museum as “a bold composition which places the unbridled freedom of horses in a field in juxtaposition with the controlled power of a horse in harness.”

Last sold in 2003 at the Harness Tracks of America auction in Lexington, Kentucky, for $5,000, the sale will benefit the care and conservation of art and artifacts in the historic collections of the Harness Racing Museum.

Can't attend but still want to bid? Contact Museum director Janet Terhune at 294-6330.

New work reflects Sullivan County

MONTICELLO - Sullivan County Chamber Orchestra and Nesin Cultural Arts have been awarded a $5,260 grant by New Music USA. The money will be used to commission and record a new composition by local performer and educator Nancy Wegrzyn entitled, “Four Seasons of Sullivan County.”

In addition, the two organizations have commissioned award-winning artist and Monticello native Laurie Kilgore to collaborate with Wegrzyn to reflect upon the beauty of Sullivan County through a visual representation. Kilgore will sketch and paint around Sullivan County throughout the upcoming seasons.

The artistic process will be shared in presentations around Sullivan County throughout the year, culminating in a final premiere presentation by the SCCO in June of 2019. Find out more at nesinculturalarts.org and sccoplayers.org