NORMAN — Visions of pointe shoes and pirouettes are the things childhood dreams are made of. But for a select group of University of Oklahoma students these fantasies are just a part of every day life.
Ballet students at OU’s School of Dance routinely spend 12-hour days dancing between artistic bliss and grueling athleticism. Though for many of these budding artists there’s no sacrifice too great for the medium they love most.
Graduate student Josh Barr walked across the studio, his turnout a permanent part of his gait, as he said his ballet study began at 10 years old. Though at first he only attended classes an hour a week, it quickly escalated to several hours a day, six days a week. But even now, over a decade later, ballet still remains a source of great satisfaction.
“It’s really funny because we spend so much time in the studio and dancing all the time but on my days off, like on Sunday — I mean, granted, it is nice to have a day to let your body rest — but I probably spend a lot of time YouTubing professional companies or listening to different musical compositions from some ballets that I’ve seen,” he said. “We’re pretty much enthralled by the dancing.”
The Altoona, Pa., native is just one of many OU students who forsakes a typical collegiate social experience to invest 20-30 hours a week perfecting their craft. The dancers balance academic courses with technique classes, rigorous rehearsals and simply resting and maintaining their bodies.
Though rehearsals can often creep into the weekend or holidays, Barr said he has yet to feel burnt out from his commitment to ballet. Just as one performance ends, preparations for the next production begin, bringing in new choreography and a new focus on techniques to polish.