By: Brian Conlin

From: Arbutus Times

 

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New York native finds inspiration in everyday moments

During the April 1 rehearsal in the auditorium of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Camille Lattimore looked like any of the dozen other dancers on the stage.

That's because the bright lights weren't on the Arbutus resident and the other members of The Collective, a professional dance company in Baltimore.

But at show time, Lattimore, 28, can draw the audience's eyes like iron to a magnet even as she performed in the back row with a dozen other dancers on stage.

"I really enjoy coming to life, putting the costume on, putting the makeup on, being seen by the audience and actually entertaining the audience," said Lattimore, who teaches at Maryland Academy for the Performing Arts, in Owings Mills. "I'm what my students used to call each other -- a show hog."


While she performs in sync with the group, Lattimore stands out with her displays of controlled power each time she pirouettes, rolls or jumps.

Jessica Fultz, co-director of The Collective, described Lattimore as an entertainer.

"I like Camille because she moves so different from the rest of the company," said Fultz, who is also a dancer. "It's unique because it melds in with us at the same time when it needs to, but she can also pull the eye of the audience."

During the company's two performances at the Baltimore Museum of Art on April 2, Lattimore danced in two of the nine numbers, one of them a duet.

The New York native started tap dancing as a 3-year-old. She said she didn't like modern dance until she entered middle school.

"I got interested in modern and just took hold of it and kept going," Lattimore said.

Lattimore continued dancing through high school and auditioned at several colleges with dance programs but wasn't admitted to any of them.

Frustrated, Lattimore quit dancing, enrolled in Winston-Salem State University, in North Carolina, and stayed away from dancing until she could no longer resist its call.

Just months before graduation, Lattimore decided to pursue a bachelor's degree in dance at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

After graduating in 2008, Lattimore followed her fiancee, Demaurio Weanquoi, to Lansdowne for his job with the Department of Labor. They live with their now 2-year-old son, Cameran.

When she auditioned and joined The Collective, she brought her experiences with her, experiences that helped the company.

"A lot of times if you come (from a different) training school or system, it helps everyone gain more perspective," said Sonia Synkowski, a director of The Collective.

Lattimore hardly stood still during the rehearsal on the eve of the company's show.

During down time, when many of other dancers rested, Lattimore worked on a jumping move with another dancers.

Hard work and constant practice have taken the 4-foot-11 dancer, a height she has been since eighth grade, a long way.

"Within this company we have a variety of lengths going on," Lattimore said about the dancers' different heights in the company. "I always want to match them. Even though I'm shorter than them and it doesn't seem physically possible, I try to strive to be just as long -- if not longer -- than them."

Whether working up to a run on the track or simply jogging to her car instead of walking, Lattimore's constantly in motion.

When not pushing herself physically, Lattimore is often deep in thought during rehearsal.

"She takes extensive notes in rehearsals," Synkowski said. "She's fully invested in the creative process."

When an idea strikes her, Lattimore jots it down in her notebook, something that happens regularly.

Lattimore sees these everyday moments such as the empty water bottles her students leave behind in class or the stop and go movements of cars in traffic as inspiration for numbers she can choreograph.

"If I'm feeling a certain or way or a certain emotion is really getting to me, I put it to the choreography," Lattimore said.

"Whenever I'm having a bad day or I'm cloudy in the mind, I just put it to the floor.

"It's like a release. It's therapeutic."

Lattimore will take the stage with The Collective at the Baltimore Museum of Art on May 15, when the company performs with other companies at the DanceBaltimore Member Showcase.