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So You Think You Can Dance? LFHS Varsity Dance Team’s Ben Reinkemeyer

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So You Think You Can Dance? LFHS Varsity Dance Team’s Ben Reinkemeyer

Brett Chody

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Four years ago, the idea of a male varsity dancer on Lake Forest High School’s nationally-renowned dance team was far from possible. Former pommer, Kathleen Kurschner, a 2013 graduate of LFHS, can attest to this. “At Nationals we competed against a team that had a boy on it, and they were amazing. We’d talk about how it’d be great to have a boy on our team because boys can add to dance, but I didn’t know if it’d ever be possible at Lake Forest.”

This year, Ben Reinkemeyer made this vision a reality.

Reinkemeyer, a junior, began dancing when he was seven-years-old after watching his older sister, Clara, thrive in the sport. He started at LoMastro Performing Arts Academy in Lake Forest, where he developed and improved with fellow Lake Forest dancers–some even being his future teammates. In seventh grade, he opted to change studios, to Extensions Dance, a more intense company downtown. “I’d go down four to five times a week in seventh and eighth grade,” Reinkemeyer told me. “And I really loved it.”

As is the case for any freshman, Ben’s transition to high school altered his schedule. “It was too time consuming to go down [to Extensions] as often once I started high school, so I had to stop taking classes.” Instead, he did cross country and track and field his first two years at LFHS, solely “just to do it.” Like many of us, he was merely in search of a way out of quotidian P.E.

But, in spending time away from his purest passion, Reinkemeyer longed for the sport. “I missed dance a lot,” he admitted, and rightfully so. “But I didn’t even think about trying out for the [Lake Forest] dance team my freshman and sophomore years.”

The idea first popped into Reinkemeyer’s mind last year after the team got 2nd in the Poms division at Nationals in Orlando, Florida, but he didn’t bring it up until a few months ago. He asked Clara, a storied LFHS pommer, what she thought. “She was hesitant at first,” Ben began. When I asked why, he paused. “Well, Clara didn’t think it was a good idea for me to try out because she didn’t know if it would mess with the team dynamic she knew and loved so much, or if they’d even want a boy on the team.”

On Monday, October 23, Mrs. Reinkemeyer called the Lake Forest Dance Team’s head coach, Alexis Laurine, to see what her take was on Ben trying out for the team. “The coach was actually really excited when my mom called, and told her I should definitely try out because the’d love to have me,” he told me with a smile. “It all happened really quickly because that Monday was the same day the tryout clinic began.” As is often the case when a young athlete reaches prominence in their sport, joy could be heard in Reinkemeyer’s voice as he told me about the moment he discovered he could audition. Ben’s an excitable young man, who often wears his emotions–most often excitement–on his sleeve.

When asked if he was nervous before tryouts, Ben replied candidly. “Kind of. But not about the social pressures or what people would think of me trying out. I was more nervous about if I would make it or not.”

He made it.

 After impressing the talented dancers that make up the varsity team, the girls, as group, wholly embraced the idea of having a male member. “Ben’s a really talented dancer and is very hard-working,” senior Caroline Martino gushed. “His jumps are incredible and his leg holds are really good too– he is definitely going to improve our jazz dance as a whole.”

Impressively, Ben excels in countless other areas of his life– not just dance. A true student athlete, he is respected by everyone around him– teachers, teammates, and peers alike. Junior Katie Pierce, a former classmate of Ben, says, “Ben always participated in class, was enthusiastic, and had something valuable to say. You always hear, ‘Don’t quote somebody else, be quotable yourself.’ That saying embodies Ben–he is definitely is quotable.”

It all seems to makes sense; Reinkemeyer is extremely intelligent. He balances dance with AP Language and Composition, AP US History, AP Calculus BC, AP Biology, Law Honors, and French 4 Honors. That’s more AP classes in a year than most LFHS students take over the course of their four-year tenure in high school. Furthermore, he’s an active member of Yearbook Club and the Math Team. When asked how he manages his time, he shrugs it off with a smile and laugh. “It’s not too bad.”

Positivity comes naturally for Reinkemeyer, who always has a smile on his face. “He’s always happy,” senior Grace Scheidler boasted, who spent time with Reinkemeyer on the recent Kairos retreat. “Whenever I see him, he greets me with a big hello.”

Ben simply does it all, and makes it look pretty effortless.

Confident, enthusiastic, and unbelievably humble. He’s a role model for all of us, and not just because he had the self-confidence and courage to be the first male performer on the Lake Forest Dance Team.

When asked if he realized he was making history, he laughed. “I don’t really think about it that way. I haven’t done anything yet.”

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