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RB’s Deler dancing on Broadway in “West Side Story”

Photo Courtesy of Mark Deler

Mark Deler, now appearing as a Shark dancer on Broadway in "West Side Story," got his start with Orchesis and Repertory Dance Company.

Katie Maxwell, Media Editor

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Mark Deler is an RB alum who discovered his passion for dance while he was a sophomore. Orchesis dancers recruited him to perform with the company after they saw him perform in the school’s theatrical productions. That summer, dance teacher Mindy Haines gave him a pamphlet about a summer intensive program to help improve his dance technique.

“It all snowballed from there,” he said.

Deler remained a member of Orchesis throughout his junior and senior years. In addition, he joined the Repertory Dance Ensemble as a junior.

Today, Deler is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne with a bachelors in dance, and he is looking forward to a very exciting future. Deler is going to be performing with Broadway’s National Tour of West Side Story. He explained that he went through three rounds of auditions that began with 200 men and ended with only two. Although he said there was “lots of going back and forth [between N.Y. and the U of I],” Deler feels that it was “well worth it.”

“I feel very blessed,” he said.

Deler will be performing with the company for nine months after one month of intensive rehearsal. He will be a member of the Shark Ensemble and an understudy for the Sharks’ leader, Bernardo. The Sharks are one of the two feuding gangs around which the musical revolves.

It has been Deler’s dream since he was a child to perform with West Side Story because it is his favorite musical. He also said
that he could not have gotten to where he is now without RB’s Fine Arts Department. It sparked a passion within himself and provided him with the encouragement to realize his dreams.

He said, “I am living proof that [the fine arts do] work.”

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Free of Bull, Full of Bulldogs
RB’s Deler dancing on Broadway in “West Side Story”