By Denise Koch

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — How many young people in our city, with extraordinary talent, never get the opportunity to have it developed?

That was almost the case for one young dancer, Willis Brandon.

He grew up in East Baltimore’s Latrobe Homes. When he was 8, one man recognized his ability. Now he’s on his way to New York and one of the finest dance companies in the world.

“I always knew,” the 19-year-old says. “Like, that connection was always there. I always knew.”

“He draws you in,” says dance teacher Algernon Campbell. “Whenever you watch him in a group, he draws you in. You can’t help but watch him.”

Every Saturday, as Willis grew up, Campbell picked Willis up and took him to dance class.

He spent hours and hours training at the Baltimore School for the Arts, all while living in the shadow of the Baltimore City Correctional Center.

“It’s where I came from and… I don’t regret it, I’m proud of it, you know, because it made me who I am today,” Willis says. “But I’m not going to settle.”

And there’s no need to. He’ll soon be on his way to study with The Ailey School.

For his success, Willis credits Campbell, who he calls “God-Daddy,” a supportive dance community and his mother.

“She’s always been there, you know, and there’s nothing that I can do but be thankful. If it wasn’t for her and him talking, I wouldn’t be here. The main three places I could be is locked up, on the corner, or dead. And I don’t want to be that. I’m going to use what God gave me and I’m going to do what I need to do.”

To contribute to Willis’s schooling, visit his GoFundMe page.

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