A ballerina from Squamish has recently been accepted to spend a part of her summer dancing for the prestigious Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
Chelsea Blackett, 14, of the Howe Sound Dance Academy, was recently accepted to the professional dance company's summer program after auditioning in Vancouver. Similar auditions were held throughout North America and a limited number of girls were accepted into the four-week intensive program.
From the camp, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet will offer a few full-time positions to dancers. In this way the program acts as an extensive audition for young dancers trying to make it into the professional world. Blackett, who studies jazz, lyrical, and classical styles of dance, said she is nervous and excited about her upcoming adventure.
"It will be a good testing ground," she said. "I am nervous to be away from my home but I am excited to go dance."Blackett's mother, Lois Wynne, said she is proud of her daughter and her accomplishments. She said if Blackett were accepted into the full-time program the whole family would be involved in deciding whether or not she would go. "I am a little nervous for her to go away for a month but I am so excited and proud of her," said Wynne. "You always want them to succeed and feel good about themselves."
Shalimar Blanchard, owner and director of the Howe Sound Dance Academy, has instructed Blackett since she was six and said her success, as well as others from the local school, gives younger students in Squamish the feeling they are on par with dancers in Vancouver.
"Girls in Squamish are shy about their ability, but there is a lot of talent here, not just with soccer and the arts, but with dance as well," said Blanchard.
The academy now has around 200 dancers, a far cry from when Blanchard first was approached to teach at the school eight years ago.
"The first week I was here I taught two classes of eight girls, and the following week I taught two more classes, and it just went from there," she said.
She said despite the amount of talent Squamish has, the local dancers are at a disadvantage to those in the city where schools have half day programs and students are able to dance for the rest of the afternoon. She said by the time she gets to work with Blackett she has already been at school during her prime dancing hours.
"I would be happy to get them out of school early a couple days a week," said Blanchard.
Blackett also said dancing five days a week and often finishing at 9:30 p.m., can be a bit hectic. "Sometimes I am up late doing homework," she said.
However, despite the hard work Blackett puts in, she said she considers herself lucky.
"I have something I really love and some of my friends don't have that. Dancing makes me happier."For more information about the Howe Sound Dance Academy visit its website at: .