My Journey as Drosselmeyer By Michael Howerton

My journey with SJDT began at the age of 9, when I first performed in The Nutcracker, as a 1st act party boy. I studied with the original founders of SJDT, Paul E. Curtis & Shawn Stuart, who both helped shape me as a dancer, artist and performer. I continued to dance with SJDT throughout my childhood and teen years, eventually becoming a Company member at 19 years of age. I danced many roles over the years including the Nutcracker Prince, the Harlequin Doll, Mouse King, Spanish, Marzipan, Waltz of the Flowers and for many years, the Snow Prince (still my favorite dancing role in The Nutcracker).

I remember as a child dancing in the Party Scene, I was always mesmerized when I would watch Shawn Stuart perform the role of Drosselmeyer. I remember emulating every step or dance movement he would make from the back of the studio, and I always said that someday I would perform the role of Drosselmeyer. Shawn was the original Dross, and he performed the role from 1964, until 1991. Imagine my surprise, when on a morning in September of 1992, Shawn approached me about perhaps taking over the role of Dross. He was concerned that I wouldn’t want the role, because it would mean not dancing as much as I had been and I was at the peak of my professional career at that point.

On the contrary, I was so touched and honored that he would even consider me, and I felt tremendous pressure to bring the role justice and make both Paul and Shawn proud. I have been fortunate enough to continue to perform the role of Drosselmeyer since 1992, with a few hiatuses because I was “retiring” (now a running joke with SJDT alumni). I am proud to say that I am still on the “Never Can Say Goodbye” tour and I am honored to be performing the role again this year at 62! That’s even longer than Shawn danced the role (he retired at 55). I still love performing as Dross (and I still emulate Shawn and honor his legacy), but I have developed the role and made it my own over the years. I just hope that where ever they are, I still make Paul and Shawn proud.

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