By Julie Zeeb
Red Bluff Daily News
February 22, 2013
[Red Bluff, California, USA] – One of Red Bluff’s own has been accepted into the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School, a four-year conservatory in New York. Sixteen-year-old Red Bluff High Junior Joe Howarth was one of 50 people around the world to snag a spot in the school’s program, his mother Sally Upton said.
Normally the school accepts 75 students, but the number was lower, making the odds greater this year, she said.
“I’m excited about it,” Howarth said of the opportunity. “Most definitely. A little curious and anxious.”
Howarth, who is a student at Dance Red Bluff, attributes his beginning to study ballet to his younger sister, Lizzie. “My little sister really liked ballet and in a fit of insanity I decided to go with her and try different styles,” Howarth said.
Upton said it began with his aunt commenting on the fact that he was always dancing.
“His cousin kept calling him Billy Elliott,” Upton said, referencing a movie in which a boy aspires to be a ballet dancer.
“At first I took ballet and hated it, took and feel [sic] in love with jazz, took and hated hip-hop, but now I love ballet,” Howarth said.
Over the 2012 summer, he attended a month-long program with the California State Summer School of the Arts at the Arts Institute in Los Angeles. In January, after only four years of dance classes, Howarth auditioned for the Joffrey Ballet School’s summer intensive program.
Howarth began dancing at 12, which is much later than other dancers at his level, Dance Red Bluff Artistic Director Noël Julian-Anker said. Even though Howarth had never taken a class before, he quickly took to it, developing a passion and deep desire to pursue dance as a career, she said.
Two weeks after his audition for the summer program, he was accepted into the ballet and contemporary programs, but that wasn’t the end of the road for him. A few days after, he was contacted by the school and informed the school had reassessed his audition and also wanted to extend an invitation to other, more advanced programs, which included the Pre-Professional track, the Bolshoi Ballet program in Moscow and the four year conservatory in New York City.
“Acceptance into these programs is a very high honor,” Julian-Anker said. “The Joffrey Ballet School has seen many of their students hired by big-name professional dance companies in the 57 years they’ve been opened.
Acceptance into such programs is generally reserved for students who have several more years experience.”
Howarth will start the school in mid-September, just in time for his birthday. “They offered him the summer, but we decided to let him take the summer to be a kid,” Upton said.
“It’s so cool, but selfishly I thought I had one more year with him. As a single mother with three kids (at home) there’s no way I can raise the $30,000 a year, but somehow it will happen.”
Upton is looking into grants and other ways of getting the money, she said. “We’re checking into grants, scholarships and so far it’s looking good,” Upton said. “We hope to get through without loans.
The field he’s going into is an unreliable field (financially). Dancers don’t make a lot of money.”
Already people from the community, including those at Dance Red Bluff and the family’s church, North Valley Baptist, have been chipping in. Dance Red Bluff is planning several fundraisers, including the first which is a rummage sale scheduled for March 8-10 at the studio, which is located at the corner of Walnut Street and Baker Road.
The studio is very proud of its student, Julian-Anker said. “He will go far because he works hard,” Julian- Anker said. “He takes correction and pushes past exhaustion and frustration with fierce determination.”
Even though Howarth’s labor is key to his family’s farm-life, he manages to take 9.5 hours of dance classes a week and maintain As in college-prep classes, she said.
The family raises goats and has five of them, Upton said. “He helps milk them every morning before he goes to school and feeds them and trims their hooves,” Upton said.
While he will miss his senior year at Red Bluff High, he will finish it online, attending dance classes during the day, Howarth said.
The sacrifice is worth it and Howarth feels he will not have much time to miss his family, he said. “I dance and that’s about it,” Howarth said.”It’s my life.”
Donations of items for the rummage sale are being accepted at the studio during class times. For more information or to arrange for dropping off items call 527-4877.
A fund has also been set up for monetary donations at Chase bank under the name Joseph Howarth.
Copyright © 2013 – Red Bluff Daily News