McKINNEY Jamie Bond is a principal dancer with the Birmingham Royal Ballet in England. After a back injury and watching a documentary on the BBC about Olympic sprinters he found his way to McKinney, Texas and the Michael Johnson Performance Center.

Ballet is very athletic especially being a male dancer, the height of the jumps you get, the tricks and the spins, you put your body in unnatural positions for a human being, and it's very athletic, Bond said. You're running around the stage with a girl above your head.

Twice a day, for three weeks, the ballet dancer and the athletic trainers work together in harmony.

It's a pas de deux between art and athletics.

Michael Johnson, the four-time Olympic gold medalist, helps professional and amateur athletes from all over the world at his facility. He said his staff is trying to help Bond understand the issues with his back; where they come from; and how he can better manage the problem to return to the stage.

So that when he goes out there, the curtain goes up and it's time for him to perform, he's not thinking about his back he's able to go out there and focus on performing, Johnson said.

Jamie Bond returns to England this week, healed and ready to begin rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet, and taking back with him a new-found appreciation of the artist as athlete.

The coaches have been so helpful, and because I'm only here for a short time, I've made sure I have asked plenty of questions so everything is clear in my head, Bond said. When I get back home, I'll know exactly what I am aiming for.


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