When he graces the stage, he becomes J. Feirce. Yes, the misspelling is intentional.
“It makes me stand out, when someone looks at the program and they see my name,” he said.
As a dance student from Fulton, Marion, 18, knows all about standing out.
When he was a sophomore at Itawamba Agricultural High School, his theater teacher told him he needed to pursue his love for theater, dance and the arts.
“My drama teacher, Victoria Blake, was very inspiring to me,” he said. “She and my guidance counselor told me, ‘You’ve got to get out of here.’”
They suggested he attend the Mississippi School of the Arts in Brookhaven. He loved theater and auditioned for that, but decided to audition for the dance program on a whim.
He was accepted into both programs – but could choose only one, so he chose dance – and even earned a full scholarship for the two years he attended the school. He graduated with honors this spring.
“I realize this is something I want to do as a career,” he said.
This fall, he moves on to the University of Southern Mississippi, where he’ll double major in dance and theater. He loves both, so musical theater is what he loves most.
“You can always take a risk in theater, and it always works,” he said. “But dance is a way of life. Each movement we do is a choreography.”
Marion is beginning to fall in love with ballet, but his favorite dance styles are modern and jazz.
“I’m a bit of a rebel, so I can get away with stuff (in modern and jazz),” he said.
His biggest idols are dancers, choreographers, singers and actors like Bob Fosse, Gwen Verdon, Chita Rivera and Frank Sinatra.
His dream: “To choreograph a Broadway musical,” Marion said. “Then come back to Mississippi and open up my own studio.”
Marion sees this as a major need for Northeast Mississippi.
MSA’s location nearly four hours away from Northeast Mississippi was the farthest many students had ever been from home, he said, himself included. Many students from Northeast Mississippi were homesick, and he said he felt lonely being the only dance student from Fulton.
“I was 15 when I left home (to attend MSA). I had to learn how to manage money, how to manage time,” Marion said. “Coming from such a close-knit family, it was tough. But I knew I had a destiny to meet. I had to put on my big boy drawers and do it.”
He loved his time and education at MSA, but hopes to start an arts school or studio in the northern part of the state for young artists.
Until then, he looks forward to being a freshman Golden Eagle.
“I’m a little nervous,” he said. “This is a bigger territory. You never know what to expect in college. I want to build a reputation for myself, so I can teach others.”