LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — One running back from Pulaski Academy’s football team is also an exceptional dancer with a bright future.
RJ Anderson is not your average dancer, and he is certainly not your average athlete. He’s heading to New York this summer for a program that thousands apply to and only a handful get to attend.
“To describe myself, I would say, I’m an overall artist,” said Anderson.
He’s a quiet 17-year-old, who for nearly 9 years has dedicated his life to an art only some understand. When he’s not in the mirror practicing his next piece for the stage, he’s in uniform. He said he wants to push back against stereotypes that often keep boys from stepping foot inside a dance studio.
“There’s always that stigma of ‘males shouldn’t do dance’ or ‘they should not do ballet.’ They can do hip hop because people think that’s more masculine,” said Anderson.
Those same societal norms proved to be no match for this teenager’s talent or passion for physical expression and creativity.
“The way that a song and the way that words can move you is something that you can never feel outside the realm of dance,” he explained.
When Anderson isn’t rehearsing, he’s on the football field with one of Central Arkansas’s most popular and successful high school football teams. He’s a junior preparing for college and has his eyes set on only the best.
“NYU is a very difficult school to get into,” he said.
But those odds didn’t stop him from receiving a summer dance scholarship to one of the country’s most prestigious universities.
“I applied and got an email a couple of months later telling me I’d been accepted with a full scholarship. I couldn’t thank God enough, I was just like ‘Wow.’”
And though he can do almost everything, his favorite forms of dance are contemporary and lyrical.
“The emotion that I can give you on stage is something that I can’t do in a regular setting.”
Anderson said his coaches and teammates are very supportive of his dance career. More football programs nationwide are requiring players to take dance or yoga as a form of strength and flexibility training. And Anderson is already ahead of the game.