Jacob Beasley: Life inside Houston Ballet Academy’s Professional Program
by Ryann Roussel • June 1, 2017
PHOTO: AMITAVA SARKAR
Houston Ballet Academy students don’t live the lives of typical American teenagers. Many move away from their hometowns and families to join the professional program, living at the Academy or Downtown and attending school online. Jacob Beasley is one of these students. At 17 he journeyed to Houston from Las Vegas to become part of the year-round program. But while he may spend countless hours perfecting his dance technique, Jacob is assuredly just as much a teenager as anyone else his age.
When did you begin dancing, and how did you end up at Houston Ballet Academy?
I started dancing ballet when I was 13 years old. After about a year and a half I attended the Houston Ballet summer intensive in 2015. I had plans to attend the following intensive the next summer and hoped to audition for their year-round program for a great opportunity and phenomenal training.
What does your daily routine look like?
Our daily routine will usually consist of technique class in the morning, followed by a variations class or a pas de deux class. Students have an hour break for lunch followed by either another technique class and a pas de deux class or rehearsals for a performance. Houston Ballet Academy Professional Program students dance from about 9 a.m.-5 p.m. each day for 6 days a week.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am proud of pushing myself to this level of ballet in a short amount of time compared to others who have been dancing their whole lives. I am pleased with the progress I have made to be at Houston Ballet Academy, but I intend to keep pushing and keep striving. I am also proud of myself for moving out of my comfort zone away from my friends and family. This has given me a lot of experience and maturity.
What do you like to do in your free time … if you have any free time!
I rarely have any free time with a busy schedule, but on our day off (Sunday) I like to go to the movies or hang out with friends and shop at the Galleria Mall or Highland Village. It's important to do something fun with friends with the little time off we have because it keeps us balanced as kids and dancers. Occasionally, on weekdays my friends and I will go out for ice cream or cupcakes for a little treat if it is a busy week with shows.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you since joining the Academy?
Dancing at the Houston Ballet Academy and keeping up with the teachers and other students is challenging enough, but one of my main challenges is keeping up with school along with such an intense schedule. Finding time to do school and being diligent can be tricky, especially when a show is coming up. Finding time to balance a social life, keep good grades, dance all day, and get at least eight hours of sleep can be tough at times.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Eating Oreo cookies with peanut butter. I think the combination of the two is so good because I love them both, but they taste even better together.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I take a moment after my makeup is done and my costume is on and just take deep breaths to calm myself. I fold my hands and pray to God that I have a good performance and pray for my ballet shoes to not slip off!