In his younger days, Greenville Ballet School director Andrew Kuharsky graced upstate stages with his ballet leaps, turns, and choreography. More recently, while he continues to teach ballet, he has found the time to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Having started his dance career directly after graduating high school, he didn’t pursue his academic interests at that time. “While friends were going to college and trying to figure out what they wanted to be when they grew up, I was touring the world and getting paid to do what I loved to do,” says Kuharsky.
While spending a year teaching ballet at Wright State University in Ohio in 2002, Kuharsky took advantage of tuition-free college classes and later enrolled at Greenville Tech, USC Upstate, and then Clemson University to continue his education. “I think I’ve been the only student who was a college professor before he was a college student!” Kuharsky quips. He also taught high school dance for many years at the Greenville County Schools’ Fine Arts Center and at the SC Governor’s School for the Arts.
Kuharsky is ready to join his siblings as a college grad. “We came from a very academically-oriented family. My siblings went to Columbia, Princeton, and Brown. My mother says she has ‘lions and tigers and bears’ and ‘oh my,’ a ballet dancer.” He recently sent her a Gamecock to complete her mascot collection.
Kuharsky was mental math champion of Cleveland, Ohio when he was in seventh grade and is a member of American MENSA, so he’s no stranger to numbers and mental gymnastics. “I probably would have ended up at MIT or an ivy league school like my siblings, but ballet was my first love and I was successful at it.” He left home at age 16 to attend Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto, and when he graduated high school went straight to New York to be an apprentice with the Joffrey Ballet. After other jobs at the Atlanta Ballet and with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal, he and his wife settled in Greenville and began teaching ballet. “One thing led to another and I was able to earn a living here. It wasn’t until my children were grown up and out of the house that I thought about furthering my education and making plans for life beyond ballet.”
Kuharsky’s sister also tried a professional dance career for a year before going to Princeton. He says, “You don’t have to go to college right after high school. You could try your hand at something else, work for the Peace Corps, come back to college a year or two later. Or in my case, 27 to 43 years later! Going to college after ballet is a possibility; at any age.”
Although he will continue teaching at his Greenville Ballet School, as a CPA, he hopes that some of the hundreds of students he’s taught over 38 years might need their personal or business taxes done! “Or,” he says, “I could start a new business venture: ‘The Dancing Accountant’?”