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  • Steven Goforth, VSAA, alum, graduate success
  • Steven Goforth, VSAA, alum, graduate success

Grad success story: VSAA alum, elevated

At 6 feet 4 inches, Steven Goforth is hard to miss in a crowd. Or on a stage. The 2011 Vancouver School of Arts and Academics graduate exploits his elongated features and nuanced musicality in a style that’s equal parts agility and brawn.

Goforth first learned the fundamentals of his art in Vancouver. Though he’s one of several former students pursuing dance professionally, he’s one of few male VSAA alums—perhaps the only—currently performing classical ballet. In just a short period of time, Goforth has leapt from learning the five fundamental positions of ballet to performing with the Nevada Ballet Theatre.

First position

The Goforth family has strong roots in education and in Vancouver Public Schools. Goforth’s mother, Janet, is a kindergarten teacher at Harney Elementary. His father, Brian, is the director of assessment for Evergreen Public Schools. Goforth’s brother, Willie, graduated from VSAA and recently earned a master’s degree in vocal performance from Juilliard. Their sister, Anna, also a VSAA grad, now is a pre-med student at Point Park University.

Goforth’s initial exposure to dance came in a first-grade creative movement class at Roosevelt Elementary, where he was in the district’s program for highly capable students. “Soon after the first class, I came home and told my mom that I wanted to dance,” he remembers. On his teacher Bev Melum’s recommendation, Goforth enrolled in a ballet class at the nearby Columbia Dance.

Second position

Ballet, considered the foundation of all dance, elevated Goforth’s natural athleticism. He studied other styles, but ballet “was fun, it was a challenge. As I was immersed in it, the love of ballet, of dance, just grew,” he says.

His gender left him in the minority at Columbia Dance, but he developed a strong background in partnering. His teachers also helped him reconcile the precision demanded by ballet with his rapid growth. Meanwhile, friendships blossomed, including one with eventual-girlfriend Meridith Mason.

Third position

Jim Jeffers, VSAA, ITF, weLearn 1:1

Meet Instructional Technology Facilitator and former classroom teacher Jim Jeffers.

Goforth enrolled at VSAA in sixth grade. There he was challenged by the school’s array of artistic opportunities. “You can go in thinking, I’m a painter, I’m a dancer, I’m a string player, but then take all the classes and find something completely different that you love. You have all these chances to explore and express yourself,” he says. Along the way, Jim Jeffers, his advocate, and teachers including Jeri Swatosh and Margaret Green offered support and artistic and academic challenges.

While his primary ballet training continued at Columbia Dance, Goforth’s dancing gained new dimension as a result of his playing the trumpet at VSAA. He says, “Being able to hear all the different parts of the score is helpful. The other parts influence your dancing, give you inspiration on how you want to move.”

“I loved being at VSAA,” Goforth says. “The environment that’s created there is unlike anything I’ve found anywhere else.”

Fourth position

As his training accelerated, Goforth grew intrigued by the prospect of dancing professionally. Out-of-state summer intensives helped him build his technique and professional network.

Goforth accepted an offer with Utah-based Ballet West, in their training program, after he graduated from VSAA. He spent a year in the program and also performed guest roles with smallercompanies.

Then a chance meeting with Nevada Ballet Theatre Artistic Director James Canfield, formerly of the Oregon Ballet Theatre, led to an unexpected opportunity to audition for the company. Goforth was hired by the Las Vegas–based NBT in 2012.

Fifth position

Today, Goforth’s personal and professional lives are flourishing. In December 2014, he became engaged to Mason, a 2009 Skyview High School graduate who now is working to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree at Creighton University.

At NBT, Goforth has performed a variety of roles, including Tybalt in “Romeo and Juliet” and Prince Siegfried in “Swan Lake.” He’s worked with Canfield to deepen his partnering abilities and learned how better to dance with and around a partner, how to match her line and relate physically and emotionally. A 2014 Las Vegas Sun review of NBT’s “The Nutcracker” called Goforth’s Snow Prince performance mesmerizing.

A true artist in a field where complacency will not stand, Goforth hopes that his career is one marked by evolution. Though ballet can be a fickle, punishing profession, subject to the right breaks and good health as much as hard work and talent, he’s keeping it all in perspective.

That doesn’t mean tempering his ambition, however. As he leaps into professional opportunities, he’d like to dance new roles both classical and contemporary. Whatever happens, this outstanding alum says that he has his sights set on two things: “Always being able to stretch and grow as a dancer and person.”

This and other stories originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of Inside Vancouver Public Schools.