By Michael Anthony Adams
The Indianapolis Star
May 14, 2014
[Indianapolis, Indiana, USA] – At first glance, Ryan Ward is like most seventh-grade boys: trim build, shaggy hair, braces, 100 pounds soaking wet, an avid video game junkie (Minecraft is his favorite). But while most of the 12-year-old’s peers were weighing summer camp options, Ward was considering scholarship offers from three prestigious ballet programs.
When I was 8 years old, it was around the time Michael Jackson had died, I saw some footage of him dancing on TV,” said Ryan. “I asked my mom to enroll me in hip-hop lessons, and she said that if I was going to do that I would also have to take ballet. I agreed and went and saw ‘The Nutcracker.’ My mom asked me if I liked it, and I said I wanted to quit hip-hop because I liked ballet so much.”
Ryan, who plays Francis, a caretaker and saint of all the animals in the Indianapolis School of Ballet‘s spring show, “Carnival of the Animals,” began studying with Victoria Lyras, the school’s artistic director, four years ago.
This summer, the Heritage Christian student will attend the Houston Ballet‘s six-week dance intensive on a full scholarship. The Pacific-Northwest Ballet in Seattle and Next Generation Ballet in Tampa also offered Ryan full rides to their institutions; however, after discussing his options with Lyras and other instructors at IBS, he decided Houston was the right fit because of its highly regarded men’s program.
“By the time I’m 18 years old, I’m not quite sure where I’d want to go,” said Ryan. “I just know I want to be in a company.”
The young dancer, whose only interest in school is advanced math, said he plans to go to college after he retires from ballet.
Lyras said she believes Ryan has a very clear vision of what he wants to do, which is what makes him such a great dancer. “He has started at a very young age, which is happening more and more today,” said Lyras. “I think maybe 15 to 20 years ago, men would pursue dance cautiously. It was much harder then for a young boy to be taken seriously if he was dancing with a bunch of girls. Now, society is far more educated in seeing and understanding that, to become a dancer, you are beyond just an athlete.”
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