Juneau-Douglas High School junior Casey Walsh showed up at Juneau Dance Unlimited's Fourth Street studio for a few days in January, just to watch his friends rehearse.
One day, JDU Artistic Director Eckhard Heidrich asked him if he would like to try ballet.
"On the spot, I said, 'I'll do it,' " Walsh said. "We started rehearsing that day."
Walsh, 17, is the lone boy in the ballet portion of "Ballet and Friends," JDU's spring show.
"Ballet and Friends" plays at 7 p.m. Friday, May 16, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, May 17, and 2 p.m. Sunday, May 18, at the JDU studio, on the second floor of the Scottish Rite Temple at 206 4th St.
Ballet is quite a leap for Walsh, who runs the 400- and 4x100-meter relay for the Crimson Bears track team. He never had danced on stage before January. Now, he's planning to perform in the winter recital.
"My mom tried to get me into dance when I was little," Walsh said. "My sister did it, but I thought it was girly. Now that I'm here, I realize it's not all that I thought it was. It's not just a girls' art. It's a human art."
Walsh performs with friend Whitney Rickards to "Winter No. 4 Opus 8," an arrangement for ensemble strings by Antonio Vivaldi. Rickards, 17, is also a junior at JDHS.
"It was awkward at first," Walsh said of his first ballet steps. "I had to learn the basics of turning, and I'm still learning how to partner. If she's off, you need to bring her center while you're turning. It looks easy, but it's harder than you think."
The spring show includes salsa, hip-hop, rock, tribal fusion and Polynesian dance. The first part of the ballet program includes a selection of pieces for JDU's younger students. Heidrich choreographed 12 pieces for the second half of the program.
"He writes so that it challenges each dancer," said JDU dancer Sharon Heidersdorf. "He knows our personality. He knows our strengths and weaknesses. He has a passion for the dance and he tries to impart that so we can do it ourselves."
Heidersdorf has been taking classes with JDU for six years. She's lived in Juneau since the early 1970s and works as an accountant for the U.S. Forest Service. Heidersdorf will dance to "Barcarolle," a rhythmic work from the Jacques Offenbach opera, "The Tales of Hoffman."
Kelly Kinney, 17, a home-schooled student through Alyeska Central School, will perform to Vivaldi's "Concerto for Violin." At four minutes, it's one of the longest ballet pieces in the program.
"It's the longest piece I've done, and it doesn't sound like much, but when you're out there moving around, it gets to you," Kinney said.
"It's kind of a correlation of both our thoughts on it," she said of the choreography. "(Heidrich) has always thought of me as a vivid, vibrant dancer, so we went for something optimistic, never a moment's rest, constant movement. This piece definitely reflects my feelings toward dance."
Korry Keeker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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