Isaac Sanders, Professional Ballet Dancer

Meet Isaac Sanders

My name is Isaac Sanders, I'm 17, and I'm a professional ballet dancer.

What inspired you to become a ballet artist?

Before I had even started ballet, I went to a ballet school's production of Swan Lake. I almost didn't get in because my mom had forgotten her purse. Luckily a woman payed for our tickets! I am forever in to debt to her because if I had not seen that performance, I would not be who I am today. The performance itself was incredible. But what really stood out to me was that there were actually boys and men on stage, and a lot of them. The older boys were especially inspiring to me, how high they jumped, how easily they lifted their partners, I was completely shocked. From there, I immediately enrolled in their summer program the following month.

What did you have to do to become a ballet artist?

Mainly, my time. I started living away from home when I was 12, training 6-7 hours a day. At first, it was so difficult, but I was OBSESSED with the art form. Because even when I wasn't at the studio, I was reading books about ballet, watching videos, researching other companies and schools, writing corrections from the day and going over all of my class work and choreography. But really, it wasn't a huge sacrifice! I loved it so much that it was never bothersome. I looked forward to each day, going to the studio and doing what I loved.

What do you have to know a lot about for your job?

Understanding how the body works. Knowing how the body works is quite challenging. But eventually, I started to understand how the body can naturally do the things it does, even if at first it seems unnatural. Turning out from the legs for example. There are muscles that we don't even think of that have to be used in different ways for turning out the legs. 

What is the hardest thing about becoming a ballet artist, and being a ballet artist?

In my opinion, it is that you must train for so long (about 8 years), and only dance until your thirties! It's a short career, because it is so hard on the body. Another thing that is difficult, is that no one really understands ballet. It is underappreciated. No one really can understand how difficult it is, until they've experienced for themselves.

What do you love most about your job?

Movement and expression. Everyday, I get to dance. I'm a very emotional person, so if I'm angry, happy, frustrated, sad, I can put all of that emotional energy into my dancing, letting it all out. And it's wonderful, because not only are you moving with more energy because of your emotions, but you are more expressive which makes the audience feel something. I also love music, and everyday I get to draw from the emotions of the music letting it flow through my body. When I'm in class, and there's a particular piece of music that we're using for that exercise that really makes me feel something inside, it makes the class so much more interesting and enjoyable from an artistic standpoint.

Did you know a male ballet dancer may lift a ton and half worth of ballerinas during a performance? 
More here.

Read about Misty Copeland, the first African American woman to be the lead dancer in the American Ballet Theater, who didn't begin ballet until she was 13 years old.

At your local library: 


When her kingdom falls short in fairy tale rankings, the Queen orders all her subjects to attend her new school for knights and princesses. But when the boys refuse to slay dragons and the girls protest their glass slippers, the Queen has to rethink her idea of happily ever after.

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