What does it take to turn your living room into a ballet studio? A lot of talent, supportive parents, and a stay-at-home order. Reed Henry has all three. As a fifteen-year-old pre-professional ballet dancer training for a successful career, Reed has limited choices with schools and studios currently closed. Luckily he is equipped to continue his academic studies and dance practice with online courses through Laurel Springs and ballet classes over Zoom–all from the comfort of home.
From Hobby to Passion to Career
At age five, Reed attended his sister’s ballet performance and then started taking classes himself. Fast-forward about eight years, his passion grew into a pre-professional career when he began training at Ballet Central New Jersey. Reed has recently been accepted as a full-time student with the San Francisco Ballet School. While his move out west may be postponed from this summer to the fall, this has not dampened his spirits.
Many things have been put on hold recently, including the Youth American Grand Prix Finals Reed was supposed to compete in this spring. Even though there are no events, performances, or studio spaces to go to at the moment, Reed has found other ways to keep sharp and in top shape. Here’s where his living room comes into play. “I’m used to training 35 hours a week so I really needed a space where I could do Zoom classes, conditioning, and stretching on my own safely.” It was only supposed to be a temporary solution, but now marley flooring has been taped down. “It definitely took a little bit of time to convince my parents. After about 2 weeks they gave in because I was really messing up the hard wood floors and we didn’t know how long my ballet studio would be closed.” Everyone gets points for dedication in his house.
Dedication to Education
Reed, and his family, have already shown a strong work ethic, and so it’s only natural this carries over into his academic life as well. Reed is thriving in his second year at Laurel Springs School. “I love Laurel Springs because it gives me the flexibility to focus on ballet while providing me with challenging academics.” Especially in these challenging times, when all learning has shifted online, Reed was certainly prepared for the transition. “I also feel really lucky that I was already in an online school when all the schools in NJ closed. My academic life hasn’t been affected at all by what’s happening.”
What’s the best part about Laurel Springs classes? “I found that I really enjoy working intensely on one subject at a time and at Laurel Springs I get to set the pace. When I was in public school we would be changing classes so quickly that as soon as I really started working on something I’d have to stop and move on to the next subject. I think I enjoy my schoolwork more now because I don’t have those constant interruptions.”
Looking Toward the Future
While everything remains in a state of uncertainty, Reed is “focused on staying home, staying healthy and getting ahead on my schoolwork.” But there’s still hope for the future. “Hopefully my local ballet school will open again in May and I will dance there through the summer.” If all goes as planned, the fall will bring a move to San Francisco to start his professional training. ”I hope after a couple of years of very hard work I will be offered a trainee position. My ultimate dream is to become a company member and dance iconic roles like Albrecht in Giselle or Siegfried in Swan Lake on the stage of the San Francisco Opera House.” From the floors of his living room to the stage of an opera house, Reed is certain to find a way to succeed.