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Xavier Magazine | November 24, 2017

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Staying on His Toes

Staying on His Toes
Caroline Purtell

While most students spent the weeks before exams at the library, Calvin Thomas was in Detroit’s Fox Theatre performing the Christmas favorite “The Nutcracker” twice a day. The freshman began dancing at 7 years old in his native Maysville, Ky. 

“I actually didn’t like ballet in the beginning, but I decided to take a ballet class because it makes you stronger in other things, like gymnastics and other dance forms,” he says. “So I just decided to try it, didn’t really like it and just stuck it out, and I developed a love for it after that.”

At age 14, Thomas enrolled in the five-week summer program at the Otto M. Budig Academy of Cincinnati Ballet. “We just trained all day in different dance forms with the base being ballet,” he says.

Thomas liked it so much that in the fall he started to commute the hour and 15 minutes from Maysville three or four days a week after school. Eventually, he started coming every day, and often wouldn’t get home until 11:00 p.m. Thomas also supplemented his dance training in the Boston Ballet’s summer dance program and at the School of American Ballet in New York.

This past year, the Cincinnati Ballet offered him a paid entry-level position, which he balances with a full load of evening classes. He admits that he often catches up on homework at night, studies a lot when he’s on tour and e-mails papers to professors from the road.

“I applied to Xavier because I knew it was close to the Ballet, and I felt it was important to get started on education because a lot of people think that you either have to go to school or you have to be a ballet dancer, and I wanted to try both,” Thomas says. “I’m thankful for it now because I thought it was going to be hard—like I was going to be completely swamped and overwhelmed and stressed, but it’s actually not as bad as I thought it would be.”

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