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By Meaghan Norman
October 11, 2011

Classical ballet is a very strict art form. The posture, the poise, and the precision are things 25- year-old Elgin native Brooklyn Mack was first told he didn’t have.”Your body is not meant for ballet,” Mack said he was told. “You should be a modern dancer or something else. But you can’t do classical ballet.”

“I’ve always loved when people say I can’t do something because I couldn’t wait to show them that they were wrong,” said Mack.

Brooklyn Mack, of Elgin, SC, is in his fourth season with The Washington Ballet. Mr. Mack began his dance training at age 12 with the Pavlovich Dance School under Radenko Pavlovich and Milena Leben before receiving a scholarship to study at the Kirov Academy of Ballet. Mr. Mack then apprenticed with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, and later joined American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company. Before joining TWB, Mr. Mack spent three seasons as a principal dancer with Orlando Ballet.  Full Biography

He started breaking the norms when he was 12 years old with his first childhood instructor, Radenko Pavlovich. “The first thing I said to him, ‘Brooklyn, you have the most hideous feet in the world,'” said Pavlovich.

Pavlovich is the artistic director for the Columbia Classical Ballet. He made Brooklyn practice at his studio six days a week, taking every class he offered. “My colleagues told me ‘Don’t waste your time on him. He’s never going to make anything,'” said Pavlovich. “If you’re a good teacher you should be able to make a good dancer out of somebody, especially if they have the love and desire for it.”

It was football that first got him hooked. “After seeing the athleticism with these dancers and the things they were doing, I was like, ‘Okay, if these guys are doing that. I can definitely see how it can help out with football,'” he said.

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So he asked his mother for lessons and never looked back. “I didn’t think he’d stick with it,” said Lucretia Mack. “I didn’t know just how determined he would be.”

His determination fueled his focus.

“He was teased,” said his mother. “He was called a sissy and different things of that sort. But it never bothered him.”

“People are always going to throw stones in the road to try to trip you up,” said Mack.

“That wasn’t something I was able to inject,” said Lucretia. “That’s something he had to have himself. And he had enough of that passion for his dream to be realized.”

With each performance, Mack got better and fell more in love with the art form. “Nothing had really challenged me like that,” he said. “The more that I didn’t just get everything right away the more intrigued and the more ensnared I was by ballet.”

Mack did not have that perfect body when he started. But he’s worked hard training and competing all over the world. “It’s really the desire and what you really make out of yourself,” said Pavlovich. “There is no measurement for desire. There really isn’t.”

Despite his global fame, with gold medals in prestigious competitions, he still stays humble. “Having a kid come up to me and say that he wants to start ballet because of me, that has been my biggest accomplishment,” said Mack.

Copyright 2012 WIS

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