Evan Boersma's passion and talent for dance is being showcased on the world stage.
Boersma, of Dyer, was welcomed into the ranks of The Joffrey Ballet last fall. A former member of the Joffrey's Studio Co., Boersma first took the stage as a full-fledged main company member during "Christopher Wheeldon's The Nutcracker," presented by The Joffrey Ballet last December.
Since Wheeldon's "Nutcracker," which premiered in 2016, is a spectacular state-of-the-art production, with Chicago's 1893 Columbian Exposition as its setting, it was the perfect production for Boersma to make his debut as a troupe member.
"I love being a part of the company," said Boersma during a recent interview at The Joffrey Ballet's Chicago offices. "It's different being a professional rather than a student."
Boersma, who was born in Chicago and grew up in Dyer, said it was a dream come true to be named a member of the acclaimed dance troupe. He couldn't believe it when he learned he'd made it to the main company.
"I was so happy," he said. Ashley (Joffrey artistic director Ashley Wheater) called me into his office one day and told me there was a spot open, and he wanted me to have it."
The Joffrey Ballet was a company Boersma long had his eye on. "I was always in awe of The Joffrey. It's crazy to me that I'm now a part of it," he said.
Boersma's path to professional dance began at Elite Dance Co., formerly in Dyer. "I started when I was 5 and started with hip-hop classes," the dancer said.
"The whole time I was doing the hip-hop dancing, I was looking across the room at the other students doing jazz, ballet and contemporary. I wanted to do that, too," he said. "Hip-hop was never my favorite, but I had fun."
Boersma joined a competitive dance team at Elite and participated there until he was a young teen.
"I decided then that I wanted to pursue dancing and wanted to put more time into it," he said. Boersma began studying at United Dance Arts Dance Academy in Valparaiso where he also participated in a variety of competitions.
Boersma, 19, also studied at The Chicago Academy for the Arts. He competed in the Youth American Grand Prix in 2017 and won first place in that competition.
The dancer said it's wonderful to know that dancing in the company "is your job." He said he's at the studio five days a week and starts his day at about 9:45 a.m. with classes. Rehearsals and teaching opportunities also figure in to the day's mix of events depending on what's on the agenda.
Part of company's debut in France
Boersma traveled to France with The Joffrey when the troupe made its Paris debut in June.
"It's exciting," Boersma said, prior to the trip. The Joffrey Ballet performed the works, "Interplay" and "Glass Pieces," as a tribute to legendary choreographer Jerome Robbins. The performances were part of the festival, "Hommage a Jerome Robbins."
"I like the way he choreographed," Boersma said of Robbins. "And I like the way his work is arranged on stage. There are so many different things happening in it."
Boersma said he looks forward to the troupe's upcoming season. "We're doing 'Swan Lake.' It's going to be amazing," he said. Among other shows in the Joffrey's 2018-19 season will be "Anna Karenina" and "Across the Pond."
Of the ballet "classics," Boersma said "Swan Lake" is his favorite.
As a professional dancer, Boersma said there's much joy in the career but there also are challenges.
"There's always something to work on," he said, adding that down time is minimal, especially if you want to continue perfecting your craft.
Boersma is the son of Kelly Boersma, of Dyer, and Edward Boersma, of Cedar Lake. His mother, Kelly, is the principal of Frank H. Hammond Elementary School in Munster. Boersma has two siblings — brother, Ethan, and sister, Briley, who's also a student of dance and following in her brother's footsteps.
Boersma's mother, Kelly, said she was thrilled and honored that her son is now a member of The Joffrey Ballet. She said, coming from an educational background, she was at first a bit skeptical about his pursuit of dance as a career.
"I thought, 'Do you go to college or do you pursue this opportunity,' " she said. Kelly said Evan had gotten full scholarships to four colleges to study dance, and she wondered if he should accept one of them.
She said if the goal of college would be to get to The Joffrey, then it made sense for him to pursue this great opportunity.
"College isn't the answer for some kids," she said, adding if he wants he can pursue college studies at another time in his life.
Kelly said it's wonderful to know her son is on the world dancing stage. "I equate this to the major leagues," she said. "He worked very hard to get there, and he's continuing to work hard. He's very focused and driven," Kelly said.
Boersma said being a dancer requires a lot of "strength and discipline."
"It shapes you as a person," Boersma said.