Less than a year after SPS, Andrew Fleischner ‘22 is fulfilling his dream of dancing professionally.
BY JODY RECORD
It was after seeing “Billy Elliot” in London that Andrew Fleischner ’22 began taking ballet lessons at the Jewish Community Center in his hometown of Pittsburgh. He was 5 years old. Two years later, he started attending the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School. Today he is deferring college for a second year for the opportunity to dance professionally with the Los Angeles Ballet. It is, he says, the culmination of a life goal.
Earlier this year, Fleischner attended a job fair in Nashville that landed him a nine-week stint with the Los Angeles Ballet to dance in “The Lady of the Camellias.” After performing for just one week, he got the offer to join the company for its next season.
“I was shocked,” Fleischner says. “I was delighted but very pleasantly surprised. It certainly was unexpected.”
And yet it is what he has been working toward — being a professional dancer — all of his life.
He attended the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School though middle school. In eighth grade he was looking at a preprofessional program that he would attend full time. But it wasn’t how he wanted to spend his high school years.
“A lot of people go into a preprofessional program and do high school online but I really wanted to attend in-person,” Fleischner says. “I didn’t want to miss out on the high school experience.”
It was his mother who suggested he consider St. Paul’s. His father and uncle are alums, and the St. Paul’s School Ballet Company’s full academic-year program would allow him to meld his academics and dance education.
“Going there was a great opportunity to have both dance and the high school experience I was looking for,” he says.
After graduating from St. Paul’s, Fleischner decided to take a gap year before starting at Columbia University so he could continue his dance training. He was attending the Rock School For Dance Education in Philadelphia when he got the nine-week offer from Los Angeles Ballet. When the opportunity came to dance with the company next fall, he says he had to think about it — he’d already committed to another company, and was supposed to go to the Youth America Grand Prix in Tampa, the world’s largest international ballet competition and scholarship program for dance students.
“It will be an adjustment to go from being a ballet student to professional dancer,” he says. I have been a student all my life. I’m looking forward to seeing what life as a professional dancer will be like.”
Fleischner says the advice he got from Kate Lydon, director of dance at St. Paul’s, and Peter Stark, president and director at the Rock School, helped him decide. “They told me that taking the position with LA Ballet was the best way to see what it’s like to become a professional dancer. I’m at an age where I can take advantage of a great opportunity.”
At the same time, he says he feels conflicted between dance and not wanting to lose his spot at Columbia. “I feel very lucky to have gotten in there; they have a great dance program as well as academics.”
He says he will go to college in the future and notes an interest in science and languages. “I do want to get my degree but I also want to see what it’s like to be a professional dancer. I have lots of goals and this checks one of the major boxes.”