While many kids start playing Little League Baseball, or collecting trading cards, or riding their bikes around the age of ten, North senior Joe Foster had other ideas.
“When I was in fifth grade, I saw the nutcracker, and I was inspired by the men performing,” Foster said. “To me, as a little kid, it seemed almost like they were more than human, like they were flying across the stage.” The performance inspired Foster to take up ballet at Princeton Ballet School, so he too could emulate those dancers. “I decided that this is what I wanted to try to do,” Foster said.
Foster spends five to seven hours a day in studio, either rehearsing or taking class. “The emotional toll that it can take is very great,” Foster said. He said the most influential figure in his dancing career has been instructor Gleidson Hoffman. Hoffman grew up in Brazil, and was left alone after his father tragically committed suicide, and his mother abandoned him at a young age. “Ballet ultimately saved his life,” Foster said.
Foster credits Hoffman for believing in him, even when Foster himself had lost confidence. “Ever since I’ve known him, he’s always seen me as the best of who I am. I think that’s really what’s kept me going,” Foster said. Hoffman studied at the Harid Conservatory, and was awarded two of the highest student honors at the school. He has danced with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Canada, as well as the Cuban Classical Ballet in Miami.
Foster said “the satisfaction I get from a stellar performance” is what he enjoys most about ballet. He is also fond of the chemistry he feels when dancing in pairs: “Dancing with a partner is incredible, just to have that connection and understand the emotion of another person,” Foster said.
Senior Adrija Chakraborty partnered with Foster for the senior swing dance competition, and the two performed strongly, placing in the top three. “We weren’t the most polished, but I think we both were pleasantly surprised by how far we got in the competition. And our school and community were so supportive of all the performers that we both had a great time,” Chakraborty said. Foster missed most of his gym class’s swing dance unit, because he was busy auditioning, so the pair choreographed their dance over Skype. “It’s strange to speak of him with a more serious tone, because our relationship is so full of jokes and teasing one another—he’s kind of a giant goofball,” Chakraborty said.
Foster plans to continue dancing beyond his time at North. He is currently auditioning for spots in a handful of dance companies, and could go professional as early as next year.
Though dancing may seem atypical to the average boy, Foster stresses the incredible strength and fitness required for ballet. “Watch the nutcracker, and you see how incredibly strong, powerful, and masculine these guys really are. It’s an incredible experience,” Foster said. “In my opinion, anyone can dance.”