Thomas Phelan is a joyful, even manic presence. His gusto and vitality seem boundless—he often literally jumps for joy. When we were talking about his life recently, I asked him what on earth he would have done with all his physical energy if he had gone into mathematics (a one-time ambition) instead of a dancer. He just laughed.

In high school where he grew up in Fort Collins, CO, he “sort of followed what others suggested, do or don’t do this”—football, cheerleading, swimming, diving, tumbling.

It wasn’t until college, at Colorado State University, though, that he tried dance as such. He was more or less a psych major at the time, but took a jazz class and went on to become a dance major. His parents (mother a biologist, dad in horticulture), were supportive, even if they did wonder how he would make money dancing, esp as he started pretty late. He thought he might teach, which h