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By Kathleen Mellen
The Daily Hampshire Gazette, Hampshire Life
December 11, 2014

 

Caleb Ballentine, 12, during a ballet class at the Amherst Ballet (Yoshitaka Hamada) 2014-01[Amherst, Massachuets, USA] – Caleb Ballantine is still pretty young — 12 — but he already knows what he wants to do with his life: dance. He’s been dancing since he was just 2 or 3, he reports, when he was moved by music at a wedding. “I loved dance ever since,” the Amherst youngster says. Caleb comes by the passion honestly: His grandmother, Peggy Schwarz, is a professor emeritus of dance at the University of Massachusetts. But, dance isn’t his only means of communication: He’s an actor, a singer and a choreographer. And, oh, yes. He also does gymnastics.

Hampshire Life: Describe the work you are doing now.

Calab Ballantine: The dance techniques I am working on learning currently include hip-hop and ballet. I am in the Electric Boyz, a group of dancers at Pineapple Dance in Amherst that performs throughout the Valley and just had a show last month. I am also studying at Amherst Ballet, where I am focused on strength training, learning new moves and preparing for a spring performance.

H.L.: What were your early influences?

C.B.: I remember my first hip-hop class when I was about 4 years old. A few years later, I saw the musical “Billy Elliot” on Broadway with my grammy, Peggy Schwartz. I watched the dancer’s moves throughout the whole production and decided I wanted to be just like him. I started studying ballet and modern dance at that point in my life and have continued ever since.

Caleb Ballentine, 12, during a ballet class at the Amherst Ballet (Yoshitaka Hamada) 2014-02

HL: What do you think the audience sees when they watch you dance?

C.B. When I dance, the audience experiences a calm and exciting style at the same exact time.

H.L.: What is your creative process like when you are making up your own steps?

C.B.: I usually listen intently to music and my feet and my body start moving to the rhythm of the music, and I just dance. When I start to move, I feel like a bundle of energy inside that leads me to pop, move, bounce and fly throughout the stage, expressing my feelings and thoughts through my body.

H.L.: How do you know you’re on the right track?

C.B.: I know I am on the right track when the moves just come together and my body knows the whole dance or piece I am working on learning or creating.

H.L.: What do you do when you get stuck?

C.B.: I think about the move that comes ahead and try to reach for that movement and keep on going.

Caleb Ballentine, 12, during a ballet class at the Amherst Ballet (Yoshitaka Hamada) 2014-03

H.L.: What did you do recently that relates to your art?

C.B.: Most recently I performed in Pineapple Dance’s show at Amherst Regional High School. I was in two pieces: “If You Crump Stand Up” and “All I Do Is Win.”

H.L.: What are your dreams for your future?

C.B.: My dreams include going to dance school in New York City, performing on Broadway and at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Whenever I go to Jacob’s Pillow the dancing is amazing and it feels like home. I am traveling to Israel in December and plan to visit the Susanne Dahlal Center for Dance in Tel Aviv. I think I was born to dance.

 

 

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