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By Phyllis Sigal
The Intelligencer Wheeling News-Register
July 18, 2012

I love following local people who have gone on to live their dreams on stages or on television or on the big screen across the country.

There are several careers I’ve made a point to follow and to write about: Ashley Yeater, who was in “The Producers” and “Follies” on Broadway; Aaron Galligan-Stierle, who is now on Broadway in “Phantom of the Opera”; and recently, I featured Michelle Duffy, who was in “Leap of Faith” on Broadway; among others.

Last year, I wrote a story about Ryan Lenkey of Wheeling, a young boy who fell in love with ballet at the age of 9. It was after seeing “Billy Elliot” on Broadway — the tale of a boy from an English mill town who turns to ballet , and not without hardships — that he decided that he wanted to do that with his life. He started dance lessons, and now travels several days a week to study with the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet Co. in Peters Township.

He’s getting closer to his dream every day — this week, he’s performing in the New York City Ballet production of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet,” at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga, N.Y., the summer home of the New York City Ballet. (The show opens tonight, July 18.)

Ryan is cast as the lead boy in the “Mandolin Dance.” In fact, he had a class this week from the young man who originated the role that Ryan will be dancing.

Ryan’s mom, Dawn Lenkey, says that Ryan is just “over the moon” about his experiences this summer. Dawn noted that every young man from the original “Mandolin Dance” cast, with the exception of one, is now in the New York City Ballet Company — something Ryan hopes to attain.

He’d also love to be cast in the touring show of “Billy Elliot.” It could happen! He’s already had several auditions and callbacks for that!

Recently, Ryan competed in the semi-finals of the Youth American Grand Prix in Indianapolis, Ind., and in May, he won the Junior Male title at Onstage New York in Niagara Falls.

Break a leg, Ryan! I’m rooting for you!

© 2012 The Intelligencer Wheeling News-Register

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