Photo by Nathan Sayers

2021 Cover Model Search Finalist Reed Henry

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Reed Henry's dancing is a master class on blending contrasting qualities. In contemporary, he plays with resistance and opposition, appearing to float while also remaining grounded. In ballet, he is precise, with a subtle yet striking panache. "He has an appreciation for classicism, but I also know that he can move," says Jason Ambrose, one of Reed's instructors at the San Francisco Ballet School. Beyond his versatility, he possesses the elusive quality that makes someone a star—the "it" factor.

Reed Henry is in a split tilt jump in the air. Photo by Nathan Sayers

A natural mover, Reed began dancing at age eight. Despite his renowned talent for concert dance—he became the youngest competitor to win Youth America Grand Prix Boston last year—he initially trained at a commercial studio. But his heart wasn't in it, and he quit. Sensing a need for change rather than disinterest in dance as a whole, his mother suggested trying a new school for a month. The then-13-year-old enrolled at Ballet Central New Jersey. "I had these two male teachers, and it was instantly a click because of their attitude and their goals for me," he says. "It was just the switch that I needed to go fully into ballet."

Three years later, in October 2020, Reed entered the SFB School with a dream of joining the company one day. Ambrose was impressed by his ability to shine even in a pandemic. "We did a virtual showing at the beginning of the year, and he really stood out in many moments," he says. "There were a lot of times where I heard from other people that he grabbed their attention. You can just imagine how captivating [he will be] and how he's going to connect with his audience when he's onstage."

Reed's magnetism as a performer is the result of not only charisma but also diligence and curiosity. His main goal for the upcoming year is to smoothly transition into his new schedule at SFBS, where he will be able to train with the institution's artistically diverse faculty. "Last year, we only had one set teacher that we could visit with because we had pods," he says. "We'll also have a longer dancing day. We're doing Nutcracker performances, too, this year, which will be fun, because I haven't been onstage in so long."

Reed Henry stands in forced arch on his right leg with his left leg in d\u00e9gag\u00e9 front. His arms are down to his sides and he is looking into the camera. Photo by Nathan Sayers

When Reed makes his case for winning the Cover Model Search, his leadership qualities stand out. "I think I'd be a great cover model because I try to create more of a modern and inclusive dance community," he says. "I think that all body types, races, sexualities and everyone should be welcomed. We shouldn't just go off of stigmas that were created in the 20th century."

The hardest part of Reed's ballet journey has been the realization that perfection is unattainable. "But also, I try to flip it and make that a positive thing," he says. "There's always something to strive for. If I ever do get discouraged, I just think about performing and how I can make the audience light up with my dancing. It brings all of the motivation back."

"Reed comes to class and has this vibrant energy about him. He's such a hard worker—I think he's a leader in the group, and his classmates really gravitate towards him. If he stays on the path that he's been on, and he really puts his mind to achieving something, I think he's going to have no problem reaching his goals." —Jason Ambrose, San Francisco Ballet School

Reed Henry stands facing stage right on his right leg with his left leg in tendu back. He is looking to the sky with his back arched and his arms bent.

Photo by Nathan Sayers

Fast Facts on Reed

Birthday: September 20, 2004

Hometown: Princeton, New Jersey

When he's not dancing: "I try to hang out with my friends and maintain an active social life, both in San Francisco and in New Jersey."

The song that always gets him on the dance floor: "Party Rock Anthem," by LMFAO

Favorite movie: Pitch Perfect

Favorite choreographer: William Forsythe

Biggest dance inspiration: "Mikhail Baryshnikov. I did a project on him in fifth grade, and I've been obsessed with him ever since."

What he'd be doing if he didn't dance: "I'd probably go into fashion design or modeling. I've always wanted to create an inclusive dancewear line that's unisex and for all genders."

Reed is one of three cover model search finalists—learn more about the other finalists here!

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