Ballet up


Photo courtesy of the Deborah Abel Dance Company -- Jaye R. Phillips

By Robert D. Gosselin

Not long ago one of the greatest young athletes I ever met gave up his baseball glove for ballet tights, and in a culture that practically treats sports as religion I was compelled to wonder why. With his abilities he could have attended any university he wanted. I had a chance to meet with him last weekend and during our visit I asked him what compelled his decision to swap a lucrative future in sports, for one in the arts.

“Well, I’ve been dancing almost as long as I’ve been playing sports, so it’s always been a part of my life. Dance just feels more personal, but at the same time it’s more social.”

Hollywood loves a good drama, and his subtle answer was quite surprising. Perhaps his personal experience was the only thing strong enough to overcome generations of stereotypes and expectations.

Now, when not dancing, he drives a fifteen year old battered car, works as a waiter on weekends and attends community college in Boston.  Truly a sharp contrast to the university life that awaited him as a ball player.

He has been fortunate to dance with some nationally recognized groups, but this story is not about what he does, but what he gave up and why.

You often hear art is about sacrifice. Watching him dance you realize it is more of a self completion from a point of confidence, and for me that defines the arts. And so does this young dancer,  Camden Ierardi. If you follow dance remember that name.

This is my first feature in what is typically called arts and culture. I will try and use it to move the conversation to the other side of the canvas, behind the photographers lens or backstage with the performers.

As the school year really gets rolling this feature will be covering as many cultural events at Fitchburg State University as possible, but not exclusively. We are lucky to live in an area where the arts are celebrated in so many places. Of course there is a strong ulterior motive. I also hope to entice you to start attending these events.

Feel free to contact me at The Point with any information about cultural or artistic events you are involved with. You can also send me an email at and let me know what you are doing. I would love to write about it. And that young dancer? He still plays baseball. That is when he’s not dancing.

2 thoughts on “Ballet up

  1. The article hit home with me. Having to deal with my fathers love of hockey and my mothers love of dance/gymnastics, I also had to choose to do what I loved, without hurting the feelings of my parents. The fact that he chose to do something out of the norm is remarkable. Both the art of dance and the sport of baseball are challenging in their own ways, and the simple fact that he still carries on living the life of a typical man yet dances in his spare time, is admirable to an extreme. The article was also very well written and captured my attention with just the name “Ballet Up”.

  2. I think that he gave a lot up because he was so good at baseball and had a future in that sport. But just because you are good at something doesn’t mean that you have to do that for the rest of your life. I love to dance so i can see why he does too. It is personal as well as social which I agree. If dancing is smoething that he loves then it makes sense why he would want to have a future in dancing.

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