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A devotion to dance lands junior Andrés Laplaceliere a prized national scholarship
JU Dance junior Andrés Laplaceliere (center, front) in the piece "Me, We, Us," which was choreographed by Associate Professor of Dance and Division Chair for Dance and Theatre Brian Palmer and performed in Spring 2016.

A devotion to dance lands junior Andrés Laplaceliere a prized national scholarship

When Andrés Laplaceliere looks ahead toward a career, he can only see himself dancing professionally.

Junior Andrés Laplaceliere

It’s a vision the junior Dance major has had since a very young age, and his drive to attain that future livelihood for himself has now put him among only a dozen students in the U.S. to win a prestigious National Society of Leadership and Success Academic Excellent Scholarship.

The $3,000 award for students maintaining a 3.7 or higher GPA is given only to applicants exhibiting a high level of leadership and demonstrating “commitment to education and discipline to persevere through the academic rigors of undergraduate or graduate studies,” according to the society.

Andrés Laplaceliere with his idols, twins Brian (left) and Scott Nicholson, who currently dance for Ariana Grande. The duo visited JU’s Dance program for a workshop last year.

“Andre is an outstanding student who exemplifies the career orientation of many of our students in all of the arts disciplines in the CFA,” said College of Fine Arts Dean Dr. Henry Rinne. “We are very proud of his accomplishments.”

The arts and high academic achievement both run in the family for Laplaceliere, who is originally from Venezuela and is on the President’s List. His sister Adda Laplaceliere graduated Summa Cum Laude from JU in 2016 with bachelor’s degrees in Music and Sociology.

Dancing has always been Andrés’ passion, he said.

“Although it is a rather hard career, I believe that it is something worth fighting for. It also is the one thing that I could see myself doing in the future and not get tired of it,” he said. “One of the reasons why I decided to attend Jacksonville University was that I would be able to pursue my passion. In addition, I would complement it with my business minor, along with the core classes, therefore becoming a more well-rounded individual.”

Florida’s sun didn’t hurt, either, and the University’s compact “walking” campus, flexibility in coursework choices and especially one-on-one feedback from professors helped him to excel.

“I really appreciate that and it shows that they [faculty members] care,” Andrés said.

Brian Palmer, Associate Professor of Dance and Division Chair for Dance and Theatre in the College of Fine Arts, has worked with Andrés, including when Andrés performed in “Me, We, Us,” which was choreographed by Palmer and presented in Spring 2016.

“Andrés has been one of those rare individuals who we considered by video audition,” Palmer noted. “His unique perspectives as a Venezuelan, his strong work ethic and his cheerful disposition are a joy to have within the dance department.”

One of the highlights of his time so far at JU was being able to dance with twins Brian and Scott Nicholson, who currently dance for Ariana Grande.

“I have been looking up to them since 2011, and the fact that I met them within my first six months of college was amazing.”

Dr. Rinne noted that bringing in visiting artists aids the Dance program’s efforts to acclimate students to the industry.

“Our faculty work with our students to help them achieve their goals to enter the professional world,” he said. “Our program of guest artists such as the Nicholson brothers provides our students with direct access to the profession and helps them understand the level of performance and the expectations.”

Relocating to Los Angeles to become a backup and a contemporary dancer is among his goals, and even though the completely different styles will be a challenge, “I want to do both simultaneously.”

“I would also like to run my own business, but I am not sure if I want it to be dance-related yet, since I also enjoy technological topics, too,” he added.