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SHSU Loses Beloved Dance Teacher

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Jonathan Charles

by Neil Ellis Orts

Jonathan Charles, a native of Wharton, graduate of the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and a theater and dance faculty member at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, passed away suddenly after complications from a surgery. He was 64.

Charles’s professional theater and dance career saw him tour internationally with such venerable shows as A Chorus Line, Showboat, and Mame, among others. He worked with several major figures in theater, including a long professional relationship with Juliet Prowse. His résumé included work with many notable regional theaters.

As a teacher, Charles’s influence will continue to be felt in Houston’s dance community, as his students are members of local dance companies such as Hope Stone, NobleMotion Dance, and Rednerrus Feil Dance Company, as well as performing in many theater venues around town.

On the night of his death, many of his students from the area gathered at SHSU to remember him. “Before long, they all broke out in dance as the entire group began dancing his very set, classic jazz class,” said Dionne Noble, a SHSU faculty colleague. “It was the most beautiful tribute for someone I have ever witnessed.”

Students and colleagues gathered in both Houston and New York City to remember Charles with song and dance.

Another SHSU faculty colleague, Dana Nicolay, wrote a remembrance of Charles for the SHSU campus memorial, which concluded with this sentiment: “We have lost much. It will be a long time before the vacuum he leaves behind is filled in.”

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Neil Ellis Orts

Neil Ellis Orts is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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