Tupac Shakur had quite an interesting life, to say the least. He revolutionised rap music in the 1990s and was one of the major power players in the East Coast/West Coast rivalry. He’s best known for songs like ‘Hit ‘Em Up’ and ‘I Get Around’, which is why some people might not expect some of the more sensitive sides of him.
It’s a little known fact that Tupac wrote poetry, including poems, ‘Fallen Star’, ‘In the Event of My Demise’, ‘In the Depths of My Solitude’, and perhaps his most well-known, ‘The Rose that Grew from Concrete’. Of course, his lyrics show off his poetic talents, but if you’re curious about the origin of his vocabulary, you might have the Baltimore School for the Arts to thank, where he studied theatre, classic literature, jazz, and found an affinity for Shakespeare.
However, his music and lyricism weren’t his only passions when attending Baltimore School for the Arts. In fact, one of his primary talents was something pretty unexpected: Tupac was a ballet dancer.
After moving to Baltimore permanently in 1986, Tupac enrolled in the arts school where he studied ballet intensely for three years. He studied the classical technique, as is required by performing arts organizations such as BSFA. He was cast in a number of variations and productions, including Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, where he played the Mouse King.
For those unfamiliar with the nature of classical ballet, that might not seem like a big deal, but it is a principal role. If he wasn’t that good, or wasn’t that serious, he would’ve played a soldier or a party guest (or otherwise not been cast at all).
Although there appears to be no surviving footage or even many photos of Tupac from his ballet era, he has talked about his experiences on a number of occasions, always speaking fondly of his time in the performing arts.
In his later years, when you see him on stage or in music videos, it can be tempting to look for the remnants of balletic style and movement. Sometimes, those things can be easy to catch, especially when another dancer or former dancer is the one looking. I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a stretch as he never did that much outright dancing, but there is a certain grace to his movements that could be attributed to his time as a dancer.
One of the reasons that so many people might be fascinated to learn about Tupac’s time in ballet—or his many other pursuits—is the knowledge that there were so many layers to his artistry, even when he was young.
If you want to hear Tupac Shakur talk a little more about his time as a dancer at the Baltimore School for the Arts, you can check out this clip down below.