Male dancing students get education

November 18, 2008 8:51:56 AM PST
The musical "Billy Elliot" is now open on Broadway. And kids have the starring roles in the show.But when kids are on-stage, special attention has to be given to make sure they also get the education they need. One school in our area has a student body made up of students who are professional performers.

The students at the School of American Ballet share a dedication to their art form, which is not usually associated with teenage boys.

"I love doing it," student/dancer Alex Peters said. "I have a really strong passion for it and I want to do it for the rest of my life, so I don't think I could do anything else."

Now, the young men have another reason to be proud of what they do. "Billy Elliott" has come to Broadway. It is the story of a young boy who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer. Once a feature film, it is now a live musical. Like the film, the show features the music of Elton John.

"It's one of the greatest joys of my life," John said.

In the story, Billy Elliot's dreams are dampened by the doubts of his father.

Some of these students say they have been faced with questions about the idea of boys doing ballet. But they feel that even without the influence of Billy Elliot, the public perception is changing.

"It's really great because, you know, ballet is not just for girls anymore," student/dancer Peter Walker said. "I mean, it never was, but it's becoming more and more normal for guys."

The dancers are also students of academics. Many of them study at the Professional Children's School.

"Our goal here at Professional Children's School is to find a mechanism by which we can provide a rigorous academic education, working with the professional or pre-professional needs of our students," said Dr. James Dawson, of the Professional Children's School.

"I think their academic requirements. it's very important, because that's also part of a discipline that they have to instill in their careers," ballet instructor Jock Soto said.

The staging of "Billy Elliott" helps the male ballet dancers feel they are on the right track.

"I think it's really great that it's bringing attention to boys in ballet," Walker said.


STORY BY: Education reporter Art McFarland


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