From runner to nimble dancer: Mares finds passion in ballet


Bailey Lai

Coppell High School senior Andrew Mares warms up before his lesson at The Ballet Academy of Texas. Mares has been preparing for his upcoming performance of “The Nutcracker” in late November.

Camila Villarreal, Staff Writer

It was an unlucky series of injuries on the Coppell High School cross country team that began senior Andrew Mares’s journey to becoming a dancer. After one too many accidents, his mother encouraged him to drop the sport.


To kill time, Mares signed up for what he thought was a hip-hop class but instead turned out to be a ballet group. After one session, he discovered he had an affinity for dancing and came back for the next class.


“At first, going to the classes was really intimidating because I was still fairly new and I hadn’t made connections to anyone in the class, but then I realized that everyone there just wanted to help me grow as a dancer,” Mares said.


Most ballet dancers begin their career as early as the age of 4. Their bodies develop to the excruciating demands that ballet entails and the pain of flexing and bending to music becomes bearable. Even a ballet dancer’s mind has to be refined and composed. The idea is to make everything look light and effortless when really, every part of the body is pushing for a flawless performance.


For many, this makes ballet sounds unappealing and too ambiguous, but Mares embraces the challenge and pursues perfection in his movements. Having started his dancing career as a sophomore in high school, he had much to catch up on, but with repetitive practice and refinement, Mares developed a skill for the fine art, and along with it, a passion.

“I love watching him dance,” said sophomore Tiffany Mares, Andrew’s sister. “The way he prances around is so fun to watch. You can really tell that Andrew loves to dance because he never felt like giving up at any point.”


Mares began dancing at blossoming studio in Carrollton called Motion, The Studio, where he learned ballet, jazz and contemporary dance. He later transitioned into Coppell’s very own Ballet Academy of Texas (BAT), where the placement process is a little different. Motion, The Studio assigns dancers to classes based on their age, whereas BAT requires a dancer to take an evaluation class before they are sorted into a group of their level.


At BAT, classes range from an hour to an hour and a half for the upper levels. Most dance classes spend about half an hour on the barre- a bar that ballet dancers use for support- and the rest is dedicated to doing combinations across the floor.


“We’re always welcoming new dancers,” BAT ballet teacher Allison D’Auteuil-Whitfield said. “Andrew was very strong, but he was a little behind in his skills.”


Mares will be the lead toy soldier in the BAT’s annual production of “The Nutcracker” late November to early December at the Irving Arts Center. This will be Mares’ second year in the show; however, this time, he will get to perform alongside his sister, who was inspired to try dancing like her brother.  


“Since Andrew was a kid, he danced to anything that came on,” said Toya Mares, Andrew’s mother. “He’s really come a long way from that.”


Mares’ life goal is to pursue a career in engineering, but Mares hopes to keep dancing in his life post-high school, and perhaps teach it too.