Rachel Moulden for Digital First Media
Gregory Patterson shares his passion for music and dance through the students he teaches at Oakland University.
“I was always interested in dance as a kid, but was more of a sports guy growing up,” says Patterson, a Warren resident and associate professor of dance, who has been teaching at OU for 21 years.
Part of his duties is leading the Michigan Five, a performance highlighting the best dancers from colleges and universities in the state. Created to demonstrate to high schoolers what Michigan colleges offer in their dance programs, it will be at The Berman Center for the Performing Arts at on March 11.
“It’s an exciting idea because dancers are always looking for outside opportunities to perform,” says Patterson who curates the performance.
Participating this year are dancers from the University Of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Western Michigan University, Wayne State University and Detroit Renaissance High School.
Schools chosen for The Michigan Five are confirmed in October, and their dances are prepared through their classes, usually modern and contemporary works.
This year’s show is dedicated to Carol Halsted, who was a vibrant symbol in the dance world of Metro Detroit. Halsted, who died in late January, founded the OU dance department and went on to become director of dance at Michigan Opera Theatre.
Patterson’s performance career stretches back to high school and college, where he participated in the musicals “West Side Story,” “Hello Dolly” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” He graduated from Bowling Green University with a psychology degree, but after taking some dance classes he decided to pursue it as a profession.
He eventually earned his master of fine arts degree at the University of Michigan and has danced professionally for more than 30 years — as a member of Harbinger Dance Company, Eisenhower Dance, Ann Arbor Dance Works and Rigmarole Dance Company. On top of that, he’s the dance program director and artistic director of Patterson Rhythm Pace Dance Company, which he created in 2000. And he serves as chairman of the Michigan Dance Council, as well as choreographing and assisting with musicals at Oakland University.
Patterson says he’s incredibly fortunate to be involved in so many aspects of dance, but his biggest challenge is always having too much on his plate.
“I just can’t seem to say no when people ask for help,” he says with a laugh.
For Patterson, the most rewarding aspect is “being able to see students I have trained to go on in life and become successful dancers, working with well-known choreographers, and having the opportunity to tour internationally.”
The Michigan Five performance takes place at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 11, at The Berman Center for The Performing Arts, 6600 W. Maple Road, West Bloomfield Township. This performance is sponsored by Harriet and Irving Berg. For more information about the show or to purchase tickets call 248-661-1900 or visit theberman.org/.