High school football players are taking a step outside their comfort zone and into the dance studio
Touchdown and Tutus, a fundraiser for the Canton Ballet, is bringing football and dance together for a showcase to raise money for scholarships and performances.
Darius Stokes, wide receiver and and strong safety for GlenOak High School's football team, is getting ready for tryouts this weekend. He performed with Margaret Kingsbury during last year's event.
"It was surprising, actually," said Kingsbury when talking about her performance with Stokes. "A lot of the them had a knack for performing. A lot of them were really good at it. They picked up the choreography really well."
" I think you would be really surprised that some of them were football players."
Ashley Bettis organized the event and notes the importance of bringing athletes together with performers at the Canton Ballet.
"It bridges the gap between the two most important things here in our community, football and the arts," said Bettis.
"Seeing lineman even go out there that are 6 foot 5, almost 300 pounds, go out there and dance, some of them gracefully, is just amazing," said Stokes.
The concept of football players experiencing dance as a way to increase flexibility, balance and strength is not new. Lynn Swann, former wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers and inductee into Canton's Pro Football Hall of Fame, was also known for studying the art of ballet.
"I know a lot of professional teams take ballet classes for a, sort of, cross training exercise," said Canton ballet dancer," said Kingsbury.
Running routes and following a dance routine is a lot more common than you might think.
"You for sure have to practice. That’s one of the most important things to feel more comfortable and have confidence with it," said Stokes. "You don’t want to go out on the field without confidence and same goes for on stage."
NFL Films is expected to be at this week’s auditions which are still open to high school football players interested in gaining some experience in ballet.
This year's event will take place on March 10.