John F. Russell: Finding his love of sports on the stage |

John F. Russell: Finding his love of sports on the stage

— This weekend, Steamboat Springs graduate Roddy Beall took the stage inside the Steamboat Springs High School auditorium, where he impressed the crowd that came to see “The Nutcracker” with his dance moves.

But just few years ago, if you wanted to witness Beall’s best performances, you had to head down the hall past the Carl Ramunno gymnasium, down the stairs and around the corner into the new gym. Beall didn’t dance back then, but he played basketball.

He still remembers a game against Battle Mountain when he was a senior. That year, he found himself standing on the free-throw line with a chance to put the game away. He hit the shots, and the Sailors won the game.

“I think that’s when I realized that it was all on my shoulders,” Beall said.

He discovered that he enjoyed the pressure, and a year later when a friend encouraged him to start dancing, he discovered that the free-throw line isn’t the only place where that feeling lives.

“It’s not that different,” Beall said while comparing his love of dancing to what takes place on the basketball court or the soccer field. He played both sports in high school but didn’t try dancing until he got to college.

Beall said that when a dancer takes the stage, it’s very similar to taking the court for a basketball game. He said that when you are standing on a stage, you realize that the success of the piece is dependent upon the dancer. There is no place to hide, and it’s all on the dancer’s shoulders.

In the years after high school, Beall has come to the realization that the sports he loved and dance have more similarities than differences. Beall said he still remembers coach Kelly Meek telling his players to get low and to move with purpose. He said the team practiced moving in set patterns and that the plays basically were choreographed. On the soccer field, Beall remembers coach Rob Bohlmann telling his players to find a rhythm on the field, the same kind of rhythm that dancers find on the stage.

These days, Beall, now 30, still plays in recreational soccer and basketball leagues. He still enjoys the game.

But dance is his passion.

He said that when you dance as part of a performance, you are a part of a team where success is determined by the reaction of audience that sits in the seats just beyond the stage lights. The score is measured in applause, and the dancers can tell if they’ve won or lost by the cheers of the audience at the end of an act.

Beall said he never set out to be a role model but would to encourage more young men in the community to give dance a chance. He said he never dreamed of giving dance a chance in high school and admits that many dancers are conflicted by social expectations of our society. Boys should play sports, and girls should dance. But he points to several talented dancers in this year’s “Nutcracker” who already have broken those stereotypes and who already shine on the stage.

Beall may have started dancing a little later in life, but the Steamboat Springs native has made the most of his opportunities. He danced professionally with an African drum and dance group through college and has become interested in ballet and modern dance throughout the past few years through “The Nutcracker.”

“I’ve found something very special in my life, and it’s awesome,” Beall said.

He thinks that the social expectations placed on boys when it comes to dance are unfounded and out of line. He knows firsthand the amount of physical strength and endurance it takes to dance. And he thinks the skills that come from dancing can improve an athlete’s success, whether it’s on the court, the field or the stage.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966

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