After homework and chores are done, most kids like spending their free time after school watching TV or playing video games.
But weeknights for Brandon Broeker, a sixth-grader at Kyrene Akimel A-al Middle School, look a little different.
For about nine hours a week, Broeker studies ballet at Ballet Arizona. As one of a few other Ahwatukee Foothills kids also studying at the company, Broeker has found a true love for the art.
“Ballet, I think, is a good way to express emotions while dancing,” said Broeker, 12.
While he tried a list full of activities from swimming, football and soccer, nothing stuck for Broeker quite like ballet.
“What was different for him with ballet, is that it was hard and he wasn’t instantly good at it,” said Broeker’s mother, Beth. “He had to work really hard.”
After trying out his first ballet class at age 8, Broeker felt the challenge of being one of the only boys. But after giving it another chance, he instantly loved it. Meanwhile at his middle school last year, according to Broeker, classmates teased him for his dancing.
“It can be hard in some ways,” said Broeker, who has learned to walk away from negative comments. “But I’ve made a lot of friends in ballet.”
At Ballet Arizona, Broeker heard a professional dancer speak his class, who had an insightful word to offer.
Broeker’s mother, Beth, said the dancer reminded the kids that they “can’t let other people decide who you’re going to be or what you’re going to do.”
Since studying at the company, Broeker has auditioned and performed for a handful of productions like “Cinderella,” “The Nutcracker” and “Paquita.”
Broeker, who rarely gets nervous for performances, said his trick is staying in character.
“I think about who my character is and how he acts, and that’s all I’ll think about until the music starts,” Broeker said. “I love it.”
This December, Broeker will be returning in “The Nutcracker,” as one of the princes. At his ripe age, and having performed in his fair share of professional productions at the company, Broeker said he knows his future is in ballet.
“My plan is to have a career in ballet and then go to college later,” he said while his mom gave him a smirk. “That way I still have the strength ballet dancers need.”
Ballet Arizona’s production of “The Nutcracker” will be performed at Symphony Hall, 75 N. 2nd St. in downtown Phoenix, Dec. 7 through Dec. 24.
For tickets or more information, visit balletaz.org.
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