By Molly Guthrey
April 25, 2014
[Stillwater, Minnesota, USA] – When John Roesler steps up to the volleyball net, people are impressed. “They comment on how fluidly I move and play,” said Roesler, a 22-year-old IT consultant and volleyball enthusiast from Stillwater.
“As you might imagine,” said his mother, Lisa Roesler of Stillwater, “he can jump.”
Can he ever!
This weekend, instead of walloping jump serves across the net, Roesler will be dancing jetes across the stage in his role as Franz in the St. Croix Ballet’s performance of “Coppelia,” a comic ballet, in the auditorium of Stillwater Area High School.
Roesler has been dancing for fun since he was 7 years old: He is one of 12 male dancers of the St. Croix Ballet.
In the world of dance, that’s a bounty of boys.
“We are very fortunate to have a corral of young men who have been dancing with us for many years,” said Brian Sweeney, a co-founder of the studio.
The dozen will all be on stage this weekend [April 26-27th], accompanying 100 female dancers. “It’s very special to have boys in the ballet studio,” said Susan Hovey, director of the studio. “Many come later to ballet. Usually, you have to go out and try to find boys for productions and bring them in that way.”
That’s not the situation here, however. Through the years, a network of siblings, mothers and friends have brought these boys into the world of dance.
“When my older sister signed up for ballet, our mom made the boys sign up, too,” John Roesler said. “So, initially, yes, my mom made me do it. But, after awhile, there were quite a few other boys, too. It became a place where my friends were, and an activity I liked.”
Simeon Beaurline’s sister made him do it (well, she convinced him). “I said no for years,” said Beaurline, 12, of Ham Lake. “Now, I love it. The athleticism, the strength, the opportunities.”
One opportunity coming up: Beaurline will spend the summer in an intensive ballet program in Florida, courtesy of a fully funded scholarship.
Will Kratz of Stillwater, 16, learned about ballet from his big brother. “My older brother introduced dance to our family,” Kratz said. “He started because some of his friends danced. So I started dancing, too. It was a fun, extra activity. It was a way to push myself physically.”
Kratz will spend the summer dancing with the Milwaukee Ballet.
Lisa Roesler, John Roesler’s mother, has had all six of her children in ballet through the years. “My oldest, a girl, is 25,” she said. “When we moved to the area 17 years ago, I enrolled her in the studio. They were looking for boys for the party scene in the Nutcracker. She has twin brothers (John and his fraternal twin, Marcus). “So that’s how you get boys into ballet, through the Nutcracker. They had so much fun. And it just spread through the family from there.”
Roesler, Beaurline and Kratz said they’ve never been teased about their dancing, but Roesler’s mom said there is a difference between ushering boys and girls through ballet. “It is absolutely different,” she said. “In our culture, it’s hard to be a boy in the arts. And so they need a lot of support. The biggest key is a dad who thinks it’s a good thing.”
Now that Roesler has graduated from college and is working full time, he hopes to bow out of dance. But it’s not time for his swan song just yet. “There hasn’t been someone to step in and take the lead place,” he said. “And I don’t want to leave the next group of girls hanging, with no one to dance with.”
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