Apr. 14—Just before the coronavirus pandemic erupted across the world, Kaiden Currie accomplished one of his lifelong dreams.
In December of 2019, the Merrimac resident and then-Pentucket freshman won the junior male solo title at the International Dance Organization World Tap Dance Championships in Riesa, Germany. Preparing for the competition had consumed nearly all of his time and focus in the months leading up to the event, and after it was over Currie fully intended to defend his title the following year.
That obviously didn't happen thanks to the pandemic, but one silver lining in the disruption was that Currie now had time to pick up other sports at Pentucket — specifically soccer and track — that he had previously given up to focus on dance.
"It's been great, because before high school I always did all these sports and I was really active," said Currie, now a Pentucket sophomore. "Freshman year I didn't have as much time because of school and dance, but it's good to get back to all these sports and play again."
Last fall, Currie was a starting defenseman on the Pentucket boys soccer team, and this Fall 2 season he has emerged as a breakout star for Pentucket track. Currie is among the Cape Ann League's top performers in both the 55-meter hurdles (8.2) and in the shot put (34-8 1/2), and Pentucket coach Keith Sherman said he's been a great addition to the team.
"He's been great, he's super athletic, he's very coachable, he really likes the sport and he's been an awesome addition to have," Sherman said. "Not knowing how many kids are going to come out and having to share [a season] with the football team, it was really nice to get an athlete like Kaiden to come out."
As an elite tap dancer, Currie's skills have translated particularly well to the hurdles. Beyond the strength and endurance that helps in any sport, tap dancing also provides a level of quickness, precision and body control that can help elevate a competitor in a discipline where every little detail could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
"Dance has definitely helped with that in a lot of ways, definitely the speed aspect and being able to have an explosive start when the gun is fired," said Currie, whose sister Mackenzie is a standout soccer and basketball player and whose parents are both successful soccer and dance coaches.
"Even going over the hurdles, dance helps you understand your body so well and you know if you do something slightly different you'll have a different outcome."
Though he wasn't able to compete in Germany this past December, Currie has continued to dance throughout the pandemic at Nancy Chippendale's Dance Studio in North Andover, and he has even gotten to work virtually with his Ukraine-based choreographer.
This past weekend he wrapped up his competition schedule with what he called his best performance of the season, and once things go back to normal he hopes to make it back to Germany to defend his world championship title.
When that happens, he may need to step back from high school sports again. But in the meantime, he said his goals are to improve as much as possible and hopefully do well in the outdoor season this coming spring.
Then, down the road, his goal is to eventually become a choreographer in hopes of helping teach aspiring dancers in much the same way he was taught growing up.