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Little boys who love to dance should look up to Sean Howe, who at age 7 overcame the hesitation to join the extracurricular activity dominated by girls and turned it into a promising profession.
“Just do it. The joy you’ll get out of dancing is everything,” Sean Howe, 18, said.
“There’s like 10 girls to every boy in a class, too,” Mr. Howe added jokingly, hinting at dating opportunities.
Born and raised in Sylvania, the Toledo Ballet dancer was recently accepted to the Juilliard School’s dance program that begins this fall. He was picked to pursue the bachelor of fine arts degree from a pool of 573 applicant dancers from around the globe.
Only 24 dancers, a split of men and women, were selected for the dance division this year. Mr. Howe is the only freshman from Ohio selected.
He plans to study ballet and modern dance. Juilliard School is in New York City’s Lincoln Center.
Entrance into the performing arts conservatory, established in 1905, is highly competitive. Last fall, only 7.2 percent of the 2,657 applicants were admitted into its undergraduate programs. Its alumni have gone on to win Grammy, Emmy, and Academy awards, as well as Pulitzer Prizes.
Although he showed off his love of dance at a young age, Mr. Howe was not eager to join a dance class where he was the only boy.
“I could see he loved dancing, and he liked to do it in his spare time,” his mother, Colleen Howe, 52, said. Mr. Howe would even strike a dance pose out on the soccer field during a match.
So she made a bet with him when he was 7½ years old. She promised that she would find a class where another boy was enrolled, and he would get a stuffed animal in exchange.
He no longer has that stuffed animal, but he was hooked after his first jazz class, and he has not hesitated since.
Between his dance instructions at the Toledo Ballet and Toledo School for the Arts, where he is a senior, Mr. Howe spends an average of 30 hours a week practicing form and dance technique.
He finds joy in telling a story through dance, and he said dance has taught him perseverance and discipline.
“There are those days where I wish I wasn’t a dancer,” he said, referring to aches and soreness. “But 110 percent of the time, the classes I did not want to attend, I always walk out happier that I did attend.”
He credits his mom for handling his class schedule and his father, Murray, 52, for always supporting his ambition. When he was 14, they decided he needed to take his dancing talent to the next level.
“At that time he joined the Toledo Ballet and learned dance from male instructors,” Mrs. Howe said, and that helped him refine his dance craft.
Joining the Toledo Ballet and Company C Dance Club, a competition studio in Sylvania, marked when he began to seriously study dance. He ramped up his classical ballet classes, which he said is the foundation of all dance.
“Classical ballet helps a dancer refine and polish their techniques in other areas,” he said.
Mr. Howe recalled the March day when he received the phone call about his admission. “There were a lot of tears,” he said.
Larry Rhodes, artistic director at Juilliard’s dance division, wrote about Mr. Howe’s audition in February.
“It was a pleasure to meet Sean at his audition,” Mr. Rhodes said. “He seems to be a natural fit for Juilliard Dance. He is strong with a bright energy that promises stamina. These are all very good qualities for a young dancer in training.”
Mr. Howe said he will use that Juilliard training to attain his “biggest aspiration.”
“I want to join a European dance company,” he said. “Europe is focused on concert dance. ... They do it for the regal performance.”
Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: firstname.lastname@example.org or419-206-0356.