Executive & Artistic Director
Mark A. Roxey
Dance has saved me, again, and again and again. From my early youth and continuing through my current adulthood, dance has allowed me to go to the depths of my soul offering out to the community the aesthetic that mirrors my humanity.
Dance first saved me as a young child, growing up in Brooklyn with multiracial parents. My father was African American and my mother is from Puerto Rico. My initial experience with ballet, a European dance form, was when I attended ABT’s outreach program for inner city elementary school youths where they provided a ballet class once a week to students at PS 21. One day after returning from my ABT ballet class in the city, proudly carrying my Capezio dance bag over my shoulder, I was beaten up and thrown in a trash can by one of the street gangs. That day I told my mother I never wanted to do ballet again.
However, dance did not leave my soul. I started performing professionally as a b-bop, hip hop dancer in movies, commercials and with a group called Fresh Kids from Coney Island. The second time dance saved me was in a club after a hip hop performance in NYC when a woman came up to me and told me I was an amazing dancer and asked if I ever thought of taking Ballet? The alarm bells went off as I thought about my experience getting beaten up as a child and I said “no, I don’t want to do ballet, I’m cool, I’m good right here”. But I took her business card and didn’t think of it again.
Weeks later, a friend asked me to accompany them to a dance class in the city. When we walked up to the front desk, there sat the woman who gave me that card. She asked if I was there to take ballet class? I didn’t know what to say so I said “yes”. She said “Ok, you’re going to take that earing out, cut your hair, and come back tomorrow.” That woman’s name was Edith d'Addario, Director of the Joffrey Ballet for 43 years. She was like my second mother. She gave me a full scholarship, paid for food and medical bills, but more importantly, she formally introduced me to dance and gave my life direction. I was able to become a professional ballet dancer in an art form stemming from European old-school values.
Dance saved me again as I chose to pay it forward. Relying on the sensibilities, impacted by systemic racism and oppression as a multiracial, special needs human and dancer, I created Roxey Ballet with the mission founded on the all-inclusiveness and commitment to diversity, fostering a creative environment for artistic and cultural excellence across all populations. This opportunity has allowed me to pay it forward every day by working with students of all abilities, dancers from all over the world, train professional boxers, and provide mentorship to inner city youth. Everything I do stems from the spirit of sharing what was given to me.
As we contemplate the challenges engulfing us by COVID-19 and the reawakening of inequity in our society, as an arts organization impacting thousands, it is important to allow ourselves the opportunity to embrace the aspect of nothingness to envision the possibilities of something. The wind of transformation has brought about the re-envisioning of our values, perspectives, inequities and the importance of a unified message of hope.
I will continue to forge ahead reimagining the communication and delivery of our content, producing virtual and live events and providing social justice through art while making our voices heard. I choose to reimagine my art form, allow my humanity to be available to all, save others through dance as I have been saved, and stay in action.
Mark Roxey, Voted # 1 Move & Shaker in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, is the Executive and Artistic Director of Roxey Ballet, Board President of Dance New Jersey.
He has performed in works by legendary choreographers: George Balanchine, Gerald Arpino, Robert Joffrey, Paul Taylor, Jose Limon, Alvin Ailey, Twyla Tharp, William Forsythe, John Cranko, John Butler, Maurice Petipa, and Augusta Bourniville, appearing as a Principal Artist in companies around the world with his partner and wife, Melissa Roxey.
Since founding Roxey Ballet he has created numerous full-length ballets including: "The Nutcracker," "Dracula," "Pied Piper of Hamelin," "Peter and the Wolf," "Carnival of the Animals," "Mowgli," "Graduation Ball," "Celebrating Diversity," "Othello," “JLS,” "Carmina Burana", "Carmen, and "Cinderella."
With his commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility he created "Celebrating Diversity" showcasing Human, Civil, Disability rights and Bullying that was performed at President Barack Obama's Inauguration 2008 and received the Governor's Award for Artistic Excellence. His other works representing social issues include: "La Baleine Blanche," "Women and Children to the Left," "Write Between the Lines," "Palace of Mirrors," "Temptation," "Appreciation," "Inside the Out," "In Excess of Four," "MLK," "Love in Motion," "Buble," “Time Square Goodbye,” and "Artillery Man."
He has served on the faculty of: Princeton Ballet, Dayton Ballet, Wright State University, Trotwood Madison City Schools, Northeast Youth Ballet, and Raritan Valley Community College, as well as, dance program coordinator for the Hunterdon County Teen Arts Dance Festival, YMCA and adjudicator for the State Teen Arts Festival.
As a person with a disability, Mark (and Melissa) founded and directed the dance and choreography Arts Access Program at Metheny Medical Center in Peapack, New Jersey designing, staffing, and fulfilling a unique arts training program for persons with severe disabilities, working alongside disabled artists creating an avenue for them to actively participate in the creative process for more than a decade.
In 2006 Mr. Roxey was honored by VSA New Jersey with the New Jersey Governor's Award, the highest honor in New Jersey that recognizes the outstanding creative achievement of art educators and leaders. He continues to develop artistic and creative opportunities for the dance community to include people of all abilities with differing viewpoints, experiences, and resources in both the training, exhibition, staffing and artists’ aspects of the organization. He has presented workshops representing seated and special needs dancers at VSA Kennedy Center, Dance USA, and served as ADA Committee Chair for Dance NJ.
Mark Roxey understands the success of the dance community, as a whole, can only succeed by working together. He is an active member of Dance NJ, Dance USA, IPAY, APAP, Arts Presenters, and the national Arts Access Task Force.
With his wife, Melissa, Mark created youth ballet company that became a world-class professional dance organization with a major east coast impact. He is the proud father of his two beautiful children, Mirabel and Benjamin Roxey.