Brady Farrar pulled out of the driveway of his North Carolina home, trying to hide his tears. “It was definitely really sad, like really sad”, remembers the now 12 year old.
This military brat was moving again, but this farewell was different. Brady was not just saying goodbye to his family’s brand new dream home, he was saying goodbye to his family. Brady and his mother made the agonizing choice to leave his father and two brothers behind. The choice, was dance.
“The first time was definitely the hardest,” Brady recalls as he describes that day four years ago. “I saw them waving in the garage and my little brother was in my dad’s hands and I thought, ‘I don’t know when I’m going to see them again.'”
“People thought I was crazy when I first did this,” his mother, Tricia Farrar adds. “My family and friends all thought I was nuts!”
After all, Tricia and Brady were taking an enormous leap of faith. They were moving far away from a seemingly perfect life so that an 8 year old boy could receive more serious dance training. After a career in the military, including a tour in Irak, Brady’s father was getting ready to retire as a Lt. Colonel. Brady had a 3 year old baby brother at home to worship him and a 16 year old older brother to watch over him. But there was something pulling this child with the angelic aura. To hear him describe his internal drive, it could best be labeled, a calling.
“I realized dance is such a great art form. I feel like I owe it something,” says the unusually self-evolved seventh grader. “I feel like I belong to dance. I kind of feel like I was meant to do this. I can’t really explain it, I have that urge inside me.”
“Brady is definitely not normal, “ laughs his mother. “He is mature beyond his years. He knows what he has to do and he his self driven. There are times when I’m like Brady you have to rest. Just go to the movies or something, but he feel like he has to do it.”
By the age of 6 it was already obvious to the trained eye that Brady was special. While his mother, a former collegiate softball player, knew nothing about dance, she did know about passion. She started bawling when she saw it and Brady take the stage at his first “Jump” regional convention.
“When he dances you can tell it comes from inside,” she explains. “He just moved me. I can’t tell you why, but whatever it is, it just makes you get the chills. So many people say that watching him dance makes them cry because you don’t expect it from a little boy.”
Two men in the audience that day also saw something special. Victor Smalley and Angel Armas are the owners and directors of Stars Dance Studio in Miami, Florida. Smalley, who was one of “So You Think You Can Dance’s”, Ricky Ubeda and Logan Hernandez’s teachers, noticed Brady in class and knew he had to take a gamble.
“The dance god spoke to me, you have to do this,” Smalley recalls. “Brady was in the corner and timid, wearing baggy shorts. Nothing of the dancer you see now. Nothing special. For me, I just a vision of what he is today. It was ‘heart eyes’. I just knew I had this connection. I knew what I could do with him. I told Tricia, ‘Your son is going to be one of the best male dancers this world has seen.'”
For a reason she still cannot explain, Tricia ignored her typically more conventional and practical nature to trust a mother’s instincts. She drove to Miami just a few weeks later with no home, no true plan; just a belief. The pair lived in hotels for a while and then ultimately with Victor and Angel for two years, going back home between classes and conventions.
“Nobody understands how hard this has been. I did this but my family was at home,” says Tricia, still emotional about the decision. “There was time I won’t get back with my three year old. Days when I would sit in my car and think, ‘I cannot believe I’m doing this,’” she continues. “I definitely had times that I questioned it and a lot of lonely nights living out of a suitcase, but you forget that when Brady’s on stage.”
Indeed, it seems like the dance world is transported when Brady performs. Within the first year of serious training, Brady won titles for Outstanding Male Dancer of the Year at both Adrenaline Nationals and The Dance Awards. He has followed with national titles every year since. Though he is still very much a kid obsessed with the kittens in the back yard, Brady has already performed at Lincoln Center, on the “Ellen Show” and “Dancing with the Stars”.
“I think the possibility for Brady is endless,” projects Smalley. “He’ s not as kid who classifies himself. He loves it all. He just breathes dance and gives his all, all the time. He is extremely humble. He doesn’t dance for fame or money. His mindset is on such a path nothing can take him off. He just breathes it. I believe that is what is propelling him, because he dances for the right reasons in an age when people dance for followers.”
As Brady’s skills grow, so do the demands on his time. Monday through Thursday, he studies ballet and conditioning from 8 AM until 12:30 PM. A private lesson and school work follows. Then at 4:30 PM, regular dance classes begin, lasting until 9:30 at night. Fridays and the weekends are reserved for studying, conventions and assisting in classes all over the world.
There is a tremendous amount of choreography to absorb, but here, Brady seems to have an advantage. His teachers call him the “choreography encyclopedia” because he never forgets a dance, even one years old. His mind seems to have a natural gift. In fact, if he learns a combo on the right side, he can spontaneously and flawlessly perform it entirely to his left.
“It’s weird.” explains his mom. “We were in the parking lot and someone had gotten a new car and we we were looking for the car and Brady was like ‘The new license plate is’, and he said the letters, ‘and his old one was this’. He knew them both without even trying to remember them.”
Brady’s future is almost as clear in his mind. He would like to one day dance for the American Ballet Theatre or the Royal Ballet. Indeed, it seems the ballet world is anxious to get its hands on him. This year, Brady won the “Hope Award” at the International Youth Grande Prix. It is Brady’s most prestigious honor to date.
“It was everybody from around the world and I know the training and the boys from Japan. I saw them do their ballet when we were warming up and I was like. ‘AHHH!”, Brady recalls with his eyes and mouth open equally wide. “When I won, I felt really happy like I could do anything. I have a photo of my reaction and my jaw just dropped.”
“The ballet world is always yelling at me, ‘Why are you letting him do this?’,” Tricia explains, exasperated. Classical ballet teachers and schools often question her decision to allow Brady to remain in the competitive dance world. However, she and her son see the immense benefits the quality, diversity and experience of his current training offer.
“Sometimes I try to be gracious, but sometimes I get mad. They say you are wasting his talent. Do you know what he could be? Meanwhile, if he decides in two years he wants to be a surgeon that’s OK with me. He’s only a little kid,” she says of her straight “A” gifted student. “I’m so excited for him, but I feel like that big thing hasn’t happened yet . I feel like something big is meant for him. I may not be sure what it is, maybe when he’s older. I just know it’s coming.”
Brady , himself, has no doubts that he is where he is meant to be. He loves every form of dance from ballet, to tap, to hip-hop and he loves his competitive dance family that spans the country. He may have traveled very far to find his place in the dance world, but here, he has found his true home.
“It’s so much fun,” he says with a dreamy look. ” I think on stage, I’m myself and I’m not the choreography. I make it my own. It makes me feel at home and I’m not ready to give that up yet.”