Aaron Jones, all 6 feet 8 inches of him, and his partner, Allison Evans, glide across the dance floor, long-limbed and ethereal, as Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah rumbles in the background.
The setting is the Arthur Murray Dance Studio on Alexandria Drive in Lexington. Jones is a dance instructor there.
It’s a second act for Jones, who grew up as a piano prodigy in Woodford County; Kentucky Life on KET profiled him at age 10. His mother, Carolyn Jones, suspected that he was gifted when he began composing music on the piano as a small child. Jones had never had lessons. He was 7 when he started playing the piano and was composing by 9.
He had no idea that he was doing something unusual, Jones said.
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Jones began attending the University of Kentucky at age 14. He lived in a dormitory for part of that time, and he spent semesters being dropped off by his mom with a sack lunch each class day. After all, Jones was too young to drive.
Nonetheless, he has no regrets about going to college so young. UK was a diverse environment, he said, and the college environment was welcoming, “that cornucopia of human life.”
After college, he got a job at the now-shuttered Sweet Potatoes restaurant in Versailles as a waiter; he also has worked at Malone’s in Lexington. In his 20s, he went to Washington to work in a White House project that linked citizens with volunteer and nonprofit opportunities.
“I enjoyed my time, but I didn’t enjoy politics,” Jones said of Washington. “It was very acrimonious.”
When he returned to the Bluegrass, he was staying with friends when he happened to catch a season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. It was 2007, the season when speed skater Apolo Ohno and and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi competed.
Jones was transfixed. He saw the Arthur Murray Dance Studio commercial that runs during the program and signed up for lessons. Soon he was working for the studio.
In dance competition, he said, he thinks his height — which he says in jest is “9 feet tall” — will set him apart. In Kentucky, he’s used to assumptions that his height would have made him a basketball player, but he isn’t.
“I was terrible at basketball” as a youth, Jones said. “I may have been one of the gawkiest people you ever saw.”
He teamed up to dance with Evans, who, at 5-foot-10, also is fairly tall. The two have yet to compete professionally, and Jones regrets that now they probably never will.
He has decided to move to Boca Raton, Fla., to teach dance at an Arthur Murray studio there.
He has sold part of his book collection, bidding farewell to Geoffrey Chaucer and William Faulkner and Barbara Kingsolver. (His favorite book? F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. He admires Fitzgerald’s flair for description.)
Jones is heading to Florida soon. Life is finite, he said, and he’d rather have experiences than simply read about them.
But first, he is giving a farewell piano concert next month.
With his first gulp of the salty soupy air at the Fort Lauderdale airport, he decided that he had found the right setting for the next phase of his life. For the second time, he was home.
If you go
Aaron Jones farewell piano concert
When: 5 p.m. May 8
Where: Willis Music, 130 Tiverton Way