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Gotta Dance!

Ballet has been a part of Karl Broman's life since he was 8. That was the year, as his mom remembers it, that someone on the playground told him, "The way you run and jump, you've got to be a dancer!" He signed up for ballet lessons and, by the time he was a teenager at Milwaukee's High School of the Arts, was dancing three hours a day, six days a week. Broman faced a tough decision as high school graduation loomed: pursue dance professionally, or go on to college?

He opted for the latter. "I decided that if I was a professional dancer, I'd dance and do nothing else, whereas if I went to college, I could dance and do other things." Today a biostatistician at Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health, Broman is a "gene finder," using numbers to search for specific genomic regions that influence why, for example, certain infections kill some mice but not others.

And on nights and weekends he continues to dance, taking advanced classes and practicing about four times a week at the Baltimore Ballet School, under Cem Catbas. He also performs in the school's annual production of "The Nutcracker" and at other times throughout the year. Like gene finding, dancing is very analytical, Broman says, but in a way that's different from biostatistics. "When I'm dancing, there are at least 50 different things to think about," he says.

Though the 35-year-old says he can't envision a future without dancing, there are two things that may slow him down a bit. The first is age: "My body just doesn't want to do the things it did when I was 18 years old — I've had a number of injuries to my feet." The second? The arrival of first child, Caleb, born just a few weeks ago. He and his wife, Aimee Teo Broman, a cellist with the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, will need to find new ways to juggle work and practice schedules, Broman concedes.

"Having the baby will be a new challenge — who gets to go to class, and when," Broman says. "It's hard to imagine what that will be like."
— Sue De Pasquale

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