Just Dance

Gilbert small was just six when he began secretly attending after-school ballet classes in Baltimore (his parents feared he’d be bullied), but “by age 10, I knew it wasn’t just recreational.” By the time he graduated from the Conservatory of Dance at New York’s Purchase College in 2009, he’d received many offers of local work. Instead, he accepted Ballet B.C. artistic director Emily Molnar’s offer to come west.

Entering his sixth season with the company, Small, now 27, is buoyed by the supportive professional connections he’s made along the way. “The emotional vulnerability of your body being your art is a challenge you need good relationships to face.” Fortunately, he thrives on pressure: “When I’m on stage, I feel invincible.”

Harbour Dance offers ballet classes at all levels, with introductory courses for fast learners, and for those who need more time with the choreography ($30 for a one-year membership; $20 drop-in). Harbourdance.com

Carve out a dancer’s body at Barre Fitness; $200 nabs you 10 classes aimed at developing lean muscle and increasing crucial flexibility. Barrefitness.com

Arts Umbrella’s professional program counts many a Ballet B.C. dancer among its alumni; only the committed need apply. Artsumbrella.com