Taller ballerinas reach new heights

Courtney Henry always hated picture day in elementary school. Growing up in West Palm Beach, Fla., she dreaded the ignoble tradition of making the tallest kid in the class stand in the center of the back row.

That student was always her.

"I was tall, I was black, and I was skinny," Henry recalls. "I was everything that was really not cool from, like, the third grade."

The daughter of a collegiate basketball player, Henry was an unathletic child whose parents paraded her in and out of several sports. Nothing went well. Then, for her ninth birthday, her mother signed her up for dance classes. She was three years older than most of the girls, and towered over them, but she had talent. The teacher urged Henry's mother to find a better studio. Henry began to dream of becoming a dancer, and that desire only deepened as she grew taller.

"I had to work harder," she said. "That was instilled in me from a pretty young age, because I knew I would be standing out."

At 6 feet tall, Henry is, quite possibly, the tallest professional female ballet dancer in the United States.

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