How Calvin Royal III came to be in Alexei Ratmansky’s new ballet
Ballet competitions may be scorned in some quarters for their tiresome, circuslike exhibitions of technical tricks. But behind the scenes, career-defining encounters often take place, as Calvin Royal III knows firsthand. For Royal — an elegant and refined dancer who recently became American Ballet Theatre’s newest soloist — participating in the Youth America Grand Prix helped launch him into the profession.
Initially Royal, who attended a performing arts high school in St. Petersburg, Florida, wasn’t convinced ballet was for him. “I hadn’t taken any ballet before my freshman year, so I only started at 14,” he explains. “My first year, I went to my teachers wanting to switch majors, because it was just so difficult. At the time, it didn’t seem like something that I could actually do. But I went away for summer programs and started getting stronger.”