/IBC instructor was one of Bear’s boys

IBC instructor was one of Bear’s boys

Alford, 64, is a graceful, athletic man who can easily pass for half his age. He often makes students laugh even though they sweat. They are as graceful as he is. Our story starts on Etowah football field, Ala. nearly 50 years ago, when Alford tried to get a spot on the high school’s traveling team as a 5-foot-8-inch, 145-pound fullback. Alford laughs, saying that he got the ball from practice and that a linebacker twice his size crushed him. “It almost killed me, I mean. The coach asked me after practice, “Kid, do you really want this traveling squad?” “I answered yes, but he then said, “Well, you need to learn how you tape ankles. That’s the only way it’s going to happen.” Alford was a good manager and was eventually recommended to the University of Alabama, where Paul Bryant, an almost mythic coach, was the one. Alford explains, “This was 1971 when everyone was going Astroturf fields.” “They were experiencing more muscle strains, and pulls than ever.” Bryant was searching for any way to alleviate the injuries. One former professional football player suggested that the NFL had used new stretching techniques similar to those used by ballet dancers. Bryant asked Alford to join him in a dance class. Alford was the first to offer his hand. He said, “I’ll make it happen.” He said, “I’ll do it.” (As any person associated with Alabama football back then, he may have cut off a leg to help Bear Bryant win football matches. Alford was one of 20 students in a ballet class at Alabama. Alford liked the idea and thought it was cool, until the instructor made him wear tights. Alford refused to wear them, but he was forced to do so because he wouldn’t pass the class without them. He learned proper stretching techniques and did a lot more. He discovered that he loves to dance. He says, “I was a swimmer and runner so I had the right body structure.” “I learned how to dance. “I learned to love dancing.” He originally planned to majoring in business management but ended up double majoring in dance and business management. He says that he has used both. He was a favourite of Bryant, the legendary coach, and the dance faculty at Bama. It’s amazing, think about it. Did Bryant win games and prevent injuries by dancing? Alford states, “I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.” The record books show that Alabama won 43 and lost 5 games over Alford’s four years in the state. Alford moved to Chicago, where he choreographed, danced, and taught for over a decade with Gus Giordano jazz dance Chicago. He has been a member of the faculty at nearly every major international dance organization. He has choreographed entertainment events and TV productions for the NFL and NBA, most notably the NFL Commissioner’s Ball. He has been a passionate sports fan for all of the choreography, dance, and teaching that he has done over the years, particularly football. He says, “Roll Tide always.” Alford said that his wife is now a bigger fan of the sport than me. He says that ballet dancers at the IBC level are “most definitely amazing athletes.” Watch them leap, see how they move. He asks, “Watch how graceful and yet explosive they are.” Are there many world-class athletes who are also world-class dancers? Michael Jordan is an example. Alford replies, “Totally, there is no doubt about that.” Jerry Rice? “So much grace,” Alford answers. He would have made a great dancer. Walter Payton? “No, not ballet. He could have been a great jazz dancer. Jim Brown is the same. So strong. So explosive.” Deion Sanders? “He would have made a great dancer. Deion could be a tap dancer. Dick Butkus? Both of us just laughed. Alford replies, “Not so much.” Alford states that world-class ballet dancers and athletes share other attributes than physical. These include? He says, “Passion!” “All great people have passion for their work. No matter how talented you may be, passion and dedication are what will make you special. Alford states that all the exceptional athletes possess it. The same applies to dancers. David Keary, Artistic Director and Executive Director at Ballet Mississippi, asks Marcus Alford about his sixth teaching appearance in the 24-year history of this international event. Keary states that Marcus Alford has earned a unique place in dance history. “He is one those intelligent, talented people who takes in everything and then puts it back out for others to see.” His passion for dancing is truly rare.”