17-Year-Old Is Boston Ballet's Rising Star

A teenager from Somerville, Massachusetts, balances school, family, friends and a professional career as a ballet dancer.

Tyson Ali Clark is only 17, but he's working full-time for the Boston Ballet II.

"I just have a goal of reaching principal dancer," said Clark.

He said having a goal is what keeps him inspired to grow and improve as a dancer, which is no easy feat.

Clark works five or even six days a week, beginning at nine in the morning.

"Warm up, take company class, and then the day is full with a bunch of rehearsals," he said.

Instead of crunching numbers in math class, he's learning new counts of eight while going to high school online.

"It was at the age of 15, I saw a Boston Ballet show and I was just captivated by all the dancers and all the athleticism," said Clark.

It was after that show when he decided to make dance his career.

He's been training since the age of 3, at Mary Flynn Dance in Somerville. From there, he studied at the Gold School with Project Moves Dance Company in Brockton. In 2008, until 2011, he joined the Boston Ballet School.

He then received a full-tuition scholarship in 2015 to attend the Boston Ballet School Trainee Program.

"Young pop, excitement, great dynamics, great potential," is how Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen describes Clark.

Nissinen believes he has a bright future with the company.

"He's a very perspective young dancer, a young gentleman," he said. "I want to push him as far as he has guts to go."

Clark is willing to go the distance. He puts in hours training at the gym lifting weights even outside of the dance studio.

"When I see myself in the mirror I just try to pick all the things I need to work on and pay attention to that detail," Clark said.

Clark comes from a family of athletes. His mom was a high school track star and his dad was a professional boxer.

In fact, Clark is named after two of boxing's greats but said his Dad never pushed him to box.

"We sparred sometimes. We put the hands up and do a couple combinations," he said. "He just really loves me doing ballet. He sees how hard it actually is and loves me doing it."

In October they got to celebrate Clark's Princess Grace Foundation Award, a prestigious honor given to young talent in the arts.

"The alumni that the Princess Grace Foundation has are high class principal dancers," Clark said.

As Clark gets closer to his big dream he reminds himself to "stay humble."

You can watch Clark and the other Boston Ballet dancers perform this season beginning in November.

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