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By Stacy Maldonado
The Photo News
Photograph by Rosalie O’Connor
November 18, 2012

Getting to the stage in New York City to perform a ballet is no small feat — especially at the age of nine. Pierson Hall, a Warwick native and dancer at Ballroom Magic in Vernon, is preparing for George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, which begins Nov. 23 at the David H. Koch Theater in New York City.

The training is intense. The competition – fierce. However, Pierson said he looks forward to all of it.

Dress rehearsals begin this week and Pierson manages to balance that with a great portion of his day spent as a fifth-grader at Sanfordvilla School.  “I am very excited and thrilled to be able to make it this far. To dance with the New York City Ballet Company in front of such a large audience,” said Pierson.

A ballet dancer in training

If you were to ask Sondra Hall, she would say her nine year-old son has always been an athletic child. In his hometown of Warwick, he played recreational soccer starting at the age of 5. Living in this farm country he also gave horseback riding a try. “He was always bouncing around the house,” said Hall, “running around.”

When Hall’s older daughter, Vivian, began taking ballet lessons at Black Dirt Dance in Pine Island, N.Y., it was only fitting to enroll her son in hip-hop.

For the next year Pierson continued playing soccer and rotating through his favorite activities, “like all kids do at that age,” said Hall. However, her son’s enjoyment for dance really took off. Eventually, Hall added jazz and tap to his repertoire.

Then in 2010 a defining moment took place. The Hall family saw Billy Elliot on Broadway. “The children loved it,” recalls Hall. They even met the star of the show, Dave Alvarez, post-curtain call. “The whole way home Pierson couldn’t stop talking about how he wanted to really dance ballet.”

At the time he was a student at Black Dirt Dance. “It’s a great school,” said Hall, “but he was 7 going on 8. I thought to myself, he’s in need of a school where other boys were doing the same thing as him.”

Hall remembers sitting at her computer and Googling ‘boys do dance.’ This search led her to the Joffrey Ballet School in Manhattan. It offered a class just for boys with male teachers. “Perfect,” thought Hall.

She recalls, “Most of the other boys were there, not to just dance ballet, but for the athleticism,” said Hall. “There were hurdlers, football players, and an ice skater too. It was the sport of ballet.”

Throughout that year Pierson received a solid introduction to ballet, and developed a strength that his mother said could probably not be achieved through other sports. Pierson would win push up and pull up challenges against his male friends at home due to his strong abdominal core. “The strength you gain,” said Hall, “that’s the huge difference with ballet.”

Pierson continued taking lessons near home. Last summer he was cast as a sprite in the ballet production “By The Light of the Moon” for Black Dirt Dance. He was on the competition team at Simply Dance in Vernon winning numerous gold trophies. He has been a student at Ballroom Magic in Vernon for the past two summers, learning waltz, cha cha, merengue, and swing.

“These years have been a great experience,” said Hall. “When you’re bombarded with teachers who say your son has a natural ability for dance, you think, ‘yeah, yeah.” However, Hall recently decided to take their comments more seriously.

Currently, Pierson attends The School of American Ballet (SAB) at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. He is a member of the specially funded Boys Program, which provides tuition-free ballet training for boys aged 6 to 14 to increase the number of well-trained American male ballet dancers.

“You need boys to have ballet,” said Hall. “You need boys to lift girls. Unless you train them from a young age, there is a big difference in their physical development and strength, plus their level of commitment.”

The SAB requires Pierson to train there three times a week. Initially, traveling to Manhattan from Warwick was a challenge. The Halls tried taking the train from Tuxedo but it took much too long and was very costly. “It was grueling,” recalls Hall. “So now we drive in.”

The Hall’s have their routine, homework gets done, and they’re back home in time for Hall to tuck her youngest, who is six, into bed.

What Hall likes most about SAB is all of the teachers are former students. “It becomes a full circle career.”

She also enjoys the camaraderie of the other parents supporting their kids. “We have families from all walks of life,” said Hall. Some families reside in New York City and other hail from Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

The Nutcracker performance runs Nov. 23 through Dec. 30. Prices begin at $29. For tickets, visit www.nycballet.com.

© Copyright 2012 Straus News

Related Article: Young dancer to perform with The New York City Ballet

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One Comment

  1. How cute. This kid will surely be successful whatever dreams he has. Great post.


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