Lo­cal dancers earn spots at na­tional schools


It is not ev­ery­day a dancer from this prov­ince gets ac­cepted to pres­ti­gious bal­let pro­grams on the main­land, let alone two.

But, that is ex­actly what hap­pened last week as two young dancers from Con­cep­tion Bay North were ac­cepted to na­tional pro­grams in On­tario.

Four­teen-year-old Brit­tany Vaters and 10-year-old Julie Clarke were ex­cited to re­ceive the news that they would be join­ing some of the top young dancers in Canada at the Quinte Bal­let School of Canada in Belleville and Canada’s Na­tional Bal­let School in Toronto.

With their selec­tions, it is be­lieved the pair of ta­lented, young dancers are the first two from this prov­ince to be se­lected to na­tional pro­grams in sev­eral years.

There have been New­found­land dancers au­di­tion for spots, but none have been suc­cess­ful thus far, said in­struc­tor Cather­ine Sim­mons.

“To my knowl­edge, it is very rare,” noted Sim­mons, who is the owner/op­er­a­tor of Cather­ine’s Dance Stu­dio in Bay Roberts and has been guid­ing Brit­tany and Julie since they be­gan danc­ing at the age of three.

“I have knowl­edge in re­cent years of one other from St. John’s go­ing,” she said.

Sim­mons takes great pride in see­ing two of her star pupils be­ing rec­og­nized for their tal­ent.

“To see that two of my stu­dents within the last four weeks have been ac­cepted to th­ese pres­ti­gious schools, I guess, it lets me know we’re do­ing some­thing right,” she said. “Some­thing is go­ing well here.”

Sim­mons rec­og­nized the girls for their ex­cep­tional drive in be­com­ing suc­cess­ful dancers.

“It truly is be­cause of the hard work, the pas­sion and the ded­i­ca­tion,” she said.

While both are young, Brit­tany and Julie are dancers at dif­fer­ent ends of the spec­trum.

The older you are, the less of a chance you have of be­ing se­lected.

How­ever, you do not know if you do not try. Ev­ery­thing you’ve got Sim­mons had ad­vice for Brit­tany prior to her trip to Belle­vue for her au­di­tion over the Re­mem­brance Day weekend.

“You’ve got to go for it, and give them ev­ery­thing you’ve got,” said Sim­mons.

With that ad­vice in hand, Brit­tany and her par­ents trav­elled to Belle­vue for her au­di­tion.

Quinte is a chal­leng­ing in­sti­tu­tion to get into. The school only ac­cepts 15 dancers into each age group.

“I was kind of ner­vous and ex­cited, be­cause I didn’t know what they were like,” said Brit­tany of her mind­set prior to au­di­tion­ing.

How­ever, when she saw the level of dancers in her class, she quickly set­tled in.

It was not a long turn­around be­fore know­ing her re­sults.

Brit­tany was in class at Amal­ga­mated Academy on Nov. 15 when she re­ceived the call from her mom telling her of her se­lec­tion. “I al­most cried,” she said. Brit­tany will be­gin her classes at Quinte in Jan­uary.

She is the daugh­ter of Rhonda Porter and Bernard Vaters. Prime years Julie, of Bay Roberts, is in her prime years.

“( Julie) is what they’re look­ing for,” said the in­struc­tor.

Julie’s au­di­tion took place in late Oc­to­ber in St. John’s. The Na­tional Bal­let School only takes as many as 50 new stu­dents each year from across Canada and holds an au­di­tion tour at ma­jor cities in the coun­try.

“It is the most pres­ti­gious school in the coun­try,” said Sim­mons.

Julie and her fam­ily are va­ca­tion­ing in Florida, how­ever, they wrote an email to The Com­pass. She is the daugh­ter of Terry and Nancy Clarke.

“Be­cause it is so hard to get ac­cepted into this pres­ti­gious school, the idea was for this au­di­tion to be a step­ping stone, a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence with the hopes of be­ing ac­cepted, per­haps, at fu­ture au­di­tions,” wrote Terry.

Sim­mons praised her young pupil’s ded­i­ca­tion as one of the rea­sons she was suc­cess­ful at her au­di­tion.

Julie is at the stu­dio four times a week for classes in bal­let, mod­ern, jazz and con­tem­po­rary.

In June, she will be trav­el­ling to On­tario for the six-week sum­mer school pro­gram. From here, she could be se­lected to at­tend full-time in Septem­ber.

Both Julie and Brit­tany will have to move away for the next stage of their danc­ing ca­reers. Brit­tany will bil­let with a fam­ily in Belleville, while Julie will be stay­ing at a dancer res­i­dence. Nei­ther have many qualms about do­ing so, as long as they get to pur­sue their am­bi­tion.

“I don’t mind go­ing away, as long as I get to dance,” said Julie. “This is my dream come true.”

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

Four­teen-year-old Brit­tany Vaters, of Port de Grave, per­forms an arabesque un­der the watch­ful eye of her in­struc­tor Cather­ine Sim­mons. Brit­tany has been se­lected to at­tend the Quinte Bal­let School of Canada in Belleville, On­tario in Jan­uary.

Sub­mit­ted photo

Ten-year-old Julie Clarke, of Bay Roberts, has been se­lected to travel to Canada’s Na­tional Bal­let School in Toronto, On­tario for its June sum­mer school pro­gram.

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