Boy, 7, Becomes First Child With Down Syndrome to Star in Cincinnati Ballet's 'Nutcracker' Production

Jack Barlow found his passion for ballet four years ago.

A Kentucky boy with Down syndrome is breaking barriers with his ballet shoes as he stars in the Cincinnati Ballet’s production of "The Nutcracker."

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Just like any other kid his age, 7-year-old Jack Barlow loves to play baseball and go swimming, but he found his passion for ballet four years ago.

After spotting some of Jack's fancy footwork at a “Ballet Moves” program for kids with special needs, Cincinnati Ballet staffers knew the boy had to be a part of their annual Christmas show.

“There were 100 kids in the kids cast and we knew we had to put little Jack in there because he deserved it," Julie Sunderland, the Director of Education at the Cincinnati Ballet, told "All the hard work he put in and the energy he had, we were thrilled to put him in the show."

It was Jack's physical therapist who suggested he join a dance program and "Ballet Moves" was the perfect fit.

In "The Nutcracker," Jack plays "Party Boy No. 1," who does a 32-count dance with a character originally left without a partner, known as the "Cry Baby." 

"Although he was extremely nervous — like every kid should be — he did an amazing job," Jack's proud mom Ashley Barlow said. "Inclusion is everything to me and to see this happen is awesome."

Jack has appeared on stage in four shows, two of which were sold out.

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His mother is now hoping he will continue following his passion and keep dancing away.

"This is just the beginning," Barlow told "Everyone enjoyed it immensely and I believe he will be in further productions." 

The team at the Cincinnati Ballet academy is also hoping to do another show with Jack.

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