By Faith Burton, The Charter Features
Luke Burton, teenager, skateboarder, pre-professional guitarist and something that may surprise many, ballet dancer.
At fourteen years old, Luke was invited by his friend from school, Natazia Head, to join her at Classical Ballet Academy (CBA), one of Oregon’s finest ballet schools. “I didn’t think he would be bad or good at ballet… I just thought it would be awesome if we had a guy besides Merlin (another male dancer) at the studio. When he started I thought he was simply a beginner willing to improve.” said Head.
It took some time, but he soon learned that ballet is not just girls with beautiful tutus, that twinkle in the lights, dancing to ravishing music by Mozart, Beethoven and Tchaikovsky; or boys with tights on who skip and hop while sometimes throwing girls into the air. No, ballet is an intense battle between mind, and body. “I had no idea what it was going to be like, I just decided to try it and I liked it, even though it was hard. I would come home every night with severe cramps in my legs. It was a lot more intense than I thought it would be.” said Luke.
Natazia also commented on her thoughts about Luke’s dancing recently, “I think his biggest improvement has probably been mental… Like I know he’s improved on being confident and just knowing he is capable of doing the steps.”
Along with ballet classes, Luke also takes Pas De Deux (Partnering), Contemporary and modern classes.
In December of 2016, at Portland State University’s, Lincoln Performance hall, Luke took the stage for the first time; starting out in the Contemporary piece A Christmas Carol and then the Ballet The Nutcracker.
In Christmas Carol, Luke danced the parts of Mr. Smite and Ghost of Christmas Present Core Part Abundance and Charity.
In The Nutcracker, Luke was Rat King, lead Arabian (Pictured on the left), and Russian.
While talking to Luke about how he felt before and after his first years performances, he said, “I was nervous, because it was my first time dancing in a professional environment. I was relieved, tired and ready to go home after.”
This year, some of the dancers from CBA took their pointe shoes out of the studio and performed for Glenmoore Gracious Retirement Living. There they performed smaller parts of The Nutcracker. Luke danced his part of Peppermint Ice King, and finale.
In one short year, Lukes dancing has improved significantly, and with that comes more training, responsibility and excitement. Luke said, “I’m better now than I was then, I’m stronger I have better stage presence and I’m more confident overall. I did a lot more partnering, and learned more technicalities this year.”
Many of Luke’s family said that this year’s performance of Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker were much more exciting and interesting, not because last year wasn’t, but because Luke had “bigger” parts to dance. “We got to see Luke coming into alignment with his potential in ballet. Compared to last year, this year was ten times more amazing, not because he wasn’t good last year. He was amazing then and amazing now in his own way. We got to see him actually dance, it was amazing!” Tim, Luke’s father said.
It’s powerful and moving to see a young man dance in what is known by many as a “girls” fine art.
Photograph, Luke Dancing Arabian, Ariana Head, December 23rd 2016.
Natazia Head, Email Interview, December 28th, 2017.
Tim Burton, Quote, January 12th, 2018.
Stephen Jennings, PDX Dance Photographer, Instagram Photo – Cascadiaballetproject, December 16, 2018.