Hometown: Kernersville, N.C.
Education: Center for Creative Arts, North Carolina School of the Arts (2007).
Vocation: Dancer, Houston Ballet II (one year), Joffrey Ballet of Chicago (three years), Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada (2011-present).
Brian Gephart moved to Hixson from North Carolina at age 12 and attended the Center for Creative Arts for only a couple of years, but the friendships he made there have endured.
He was in town last week visiting with principal Debbie Smith and some of his friends and former teachers. He also took advantage of the school's dance studio space to work on a piece he is choreographing for a show in Chicago.
On Sunday, he will leave Chicago and head back to his new home in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, where he will begin his second year with the Atlantic Ballet Theatre.
While Gephart enjoyed his stay at CCA, the chance to learn and dance at the North Carolina School of the Arts was too good to pass up. Since graduating, he has moved from Houston to Chicago to Canada pursuing his dream.
"I have to remind myself that I'm lucky enough to be doing what I've wanted to do professionally since I left school," he said. "It's a lot of moving around, but it's been exciting to go from Houston to Canada with an amazing three years in Chicago."
Joffrey is one of the most prestigious dance companies in America, but Gephart said he wanted to try something different, and Atlantic has provided that opportunity.
"I did the big company in the big city, and I wanted to try a small company in a small city. There are only nine of us here."
He said that means more opportunity to dance and to take on different roles. An added benefit is that the director is also the choreographer, which means Gephart gets daily input and is able to collaborate somewhat on the dances.
He is only beginning to explore doing choreography himself but says it is something he'd like to pursue. While he's done smaller projects, the one coming up in Chicago is his first bigger project.
"It's something I started last summer, but it got put on hold because of the job in Canada," he said. "It's a neoclassical ballet in three movements for five women. It's an abstract ballet."
Gephart said he doesn't have a master plan for his career, but years from now, when he is unable to dance, he'd like to become a ballet master and teach. Until then, he will continue to look for new adventures and challenges, like moving to a new country where he knows no one.
"It's exciting," he said. "I knew absolutely no one. My parents came to Chicago and took my furniture back to Hixson. I flew to Canada with two suitcases and a backpack.
"I don't know what I'll do next," he said. "I've always wanted to explore dancing in Europe. I am getting kind of homesick though, so who knows."
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...