Playdates are a rite of passage in childhood. It is a time filled with creativity, joy, and chaos. Years ago, 5-year-old Evan Boersma was another kid with an ordinary playdate. Except it was not so ordinary after all. His friend, Taylor Dwyer, took him to a dance class and there was no turning back for Boersma. He loved the class deeply and his mother, Kelly, enrolled him in a dance class at a local studio, Elite Dance Co.
His mother showed incredible support and love throughout her son’s new journey as a dancer. Her support of his creativity and artistry have always followed Boersma, even from a young age.
“My mom has always been into the arts. And I think that’s how I got exposed to the arts. She always made it visible to us as kids.”
Despite loving dance, the obstacles that life brings discouraged Boersma and at one point in 6th grade he decided to give up dance. He felt overwhelmed with kids not understanding his love for dance and competing began to take a toll.
“To all the other boys it was not normal for them. I was just overwhelmed with everything that happened in school. Just the stress of the dance world and by that point I was doing competitions and traveling a lot, competing against other studios in the US. It was hard, and it was a lot for that age.”
Boersma took a break from dancing, but absence makes the heart grow fonder.
That year I remember being so miserable. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything and I was getting anxious, from sitting at home not doing anything. The next year I went back to dance and competitions because I missed it so much,” he said.
Boersma continued to dance and defied gender norms. His male schoolmates may not have understood why he loves dance so much, but Boersma embraced the opportunities to learn discipline, independence, and courage through dancing. He also had the opportunity to build his own community through dancing.
“There were a couple of other boys in my studio and I definitely looked up to them. And being able to have another boy in the studio with you, is kind of like friendly competition, but also, he was older than me, so he was definitely a mentor to me.”
At 14, he realized that he wanted to seriously pursue dance. He made the brave decision to audition for The Chicago Academy for the Arts, a performing and visual arts high school. He got accepted and made the choice to attend. High school is where he began to focus more on ballet.
Boersma and his family are Dyer natives, but he endured the commute to the city.
“Growing up, what kept me motivated was to be onstage. I think it was performing. The feeling of being on stage in front of everyone and the lights. The feeling you get when you are doing this, that’s what kept me going,” he said.
Boersma credits his family for getting him through the tough times as well. “Everybody encouraged me to keep doing it,” he said.
He graduated from The Chicago Academy for the Arts in 2017. In the same year he graduated high school, Boersma was invited to join The Joffery Ballet. He has been a part of the ballets Viva Vivaldi, Episode 31, and Napoli. He was also in the main company for The Nutcracker this past season and is now working on the winter program for The Joffery Ballet.
Boersma, now 21, is a true advocate for the arts.
“I think we need more people exposing everyone to the arts. Everybody should come and see ballet or theatre because it is for everyone.”