Accepted at American Ballet in NYC

Firestone Freshman Can Dance
Posted on 04/23/2021
Image of Jonathan McCray Jr.Fifteen-year-old Jonathan McCray Jr. was not your typical kid. He loved classical music, he could moonwalk by age 9, and rather than riding his bike through the streets, his mother would find him choreographing dance routines in their backyard.

Today, high school freshman McCray is already a successful ballet dancer. He was recently invited to attend the School of American Ballet in New York City on a full scholarship. The program takes place throughout the summer and is highly competitive, with only a small amount of applicants accepted each year.

McCray, who is entering his sophomore year at Firestone High School, has been dreaming of this opportunity for years.

“It’s unbelievable,” McCray says. “When I saw the notification, I tapped it and read it and froze. I called everyone. I was jumping up and down and just so excited.”

Though McCray was shocked, his mother, Angelita Hampton, says she wasn’t surprised at all. From the time he was two years old, she says it was clear McCray loved dancing and had a knack for dazzling crowds.

In fact, in second grade, McCray received a standing ovation at his school’s talent show after performing Michael Jackson’s “Black or White.” That’s when Hampton realized dancing was McCray’s calling.

“He was amazing,” Hampton says. “He moonwalked, he did every signature dance that Michael would do. And when the program was over, I went looking for him. I’m like, ‘Where is this boy?’ And there was a big crowd of people around my baby. And I’m busting through the crowd. And he’s signing autographs,’” she laughs.

“From there, I knew. This is what he loves.”

Over the last three years, McCray has been attending Nan Klinger Excellence in Dance studio in Cuyahoga Falls where he hones his skills and practices ballet with professional dancers.

The challenge of ballet is what keeps McCray coming back to this style of dance. McCray says he’s had to do a lot of explaining over the years to show people just how athletic it is.

“Ballet is really hard,” McCray says. “It takes a lot of strength, a lot of patience, a lot of training and a lot of mental strength. It takes a real athlete.”

Image of Jonathan McCray Jr.
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