Off to bal­let school

Lo­cal girl ac­cepted to Na­tional Bal­let School sum­mer pro­gram

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY MELISSA JENK­INS Melissa.jenk­

Julie Clarke of Bay Roberts suc­cess­fully au­di­tioned to at­tend the Na­tional Bal­let School’s sum­mer pro­gram. If all goes well with her sum­mer of dance, the 11-year-old will hope­fully ex­tend her stay into the fall and be­come a full­time stu­dent at the Toronto school.

As Julie Clarke sat across from a Com­pass re­porter at her fam­ily’s busi­ness in Up­per Is­land Cove last week, she swung her feet, which didn’t touch the floor.

The pe­tite 11-year-old has a shy per­son­al­ity, but you’d never know it watch­ing her dance on a stage.

Dressed in a flo­ral sum­mer dress with her long, straight brown hair down, Julie, who lives in Bay Roberts, is trav­el­ling to Toronto in July to at­tend Canada’s Na­tional Bal­let School — an op­por­tu­nity not many from this province have had.


In Oc­to­ber, Julie au­di­tioned for the school in St. John’s. She was the only stu­dent cho­sen from New­found­land to at­tend the 2015 sum­mer school.

“The au­di­tion class is spe­cially struc­tured to as­sess a range of qual­i­ties in­clud­ing co­or­di­na­tion, mu­si­cal­ity, qual­ity of move­ment and phys­i­cal suit­abil­ity for the de­mands of clas­si­cal bal­let,” the school’s web­site says.

Sum­mer school rep­re­sents a fi­nal au­di­tion. Some 150 stu­dents have the op­por­tu­nity to at­tend in the sum­mer, and 50 are se­lected to stay on for full­time stud­ies.

The school starts classes for dancers at Grade 6. Julie au­di­tioned last year as well. She was ac­knowl­edged for her abil­i­ties and was placed on a waitlist for sum­mer school.

But she came back again this year and earned a spot.

“I’m ex­cited and ner­vous at the same time,” Julie ex­plained.

She will be stay­ing in the res­i­dence at the school dur­ing her visit, but her mom Nancy will also be in Toronto. Her dad Terry will be stay­ing in New­found­land to look af­ter the fam­ily’s busi­ness. Both par­ents are very proud of her for earn­ing this spot.

“To know that some­body from a pres­ti­gious school seen her po­ten­tial, that makes me feel awe­some in­side to know my child is one of those se­lected to go to this bal­let school,” Nancy ex­claimed.

Full­time classes

Julie is ex­cited by the pos­si­bil­ity of at­tend­ing the school full­time.

“I don’t think I’d pass up the op­por­tu­nity though, be­cause I might never get asked again, if I get asked,” Julie said.

She is aware that there are only a few open spots and would love the chance to train to be­come a pro­fes­sional dancer. Her par­ents do have some reser­va­tions be­cause of her age.

“We’re tak­ing the, ‘cross that road when we come to it’ ap­proach,” Terry said.

“If she did get asked to stay, I don’t know if I could leave her up in Toronto in Septem­ber,” said her mom. “But, I don’t want to keep her from her dream.”

Although this could be the step­ping-stone for a ca­reer in dance, the fam­ily is aware that she may not be in­vited to full­time stud­ies this fall.

“If she goes this sum­mer and gets in­vited to stay or not, it doesn’t mat­ter. It’s still a big thing for her,” Nancy said.


When Julie got ac­cepted, Nancy knew she would have to train harder, and en­rolled her in pri­vate lessons with El­iz­a­beth Hartling (Miss Beth), who at­tended the same school for her train­ing to be­come a dance teacher.

“There’s noth­ing like a one-onone ex­pe­ri­ence,” Julie ex­plained. “I mean, in my class I do learn a lot with Miss Cather­ine. But I don’t learn as much tech­nique in one (group) class as I do with the pri­vate class.”

Julie is very big on tech­nique. She prac­tices, lis­tens to crit­i­cism and makes ad­just­ments ac­cord­ingly. And the ex­tra work doesn’t bother her ei­ther.

“I al­ways want to do my best,” she said.

Even though there is ex­tra work and more to learn, Terry and Nancy know at­tend­ing the dance school full­time in the fall would not daunt Julie.

“Julie can han­dle it. She has al­ways been more ma­ture than her age,” Terry said.

Nancy was vis­i­bly torn on the idea of hav­ing her daugh­ter go away to train. Her big­gest con­cern is that she’s only 11.

“She’s so young, I don’t know if she’s too young to have to go through all of this. I want her to be a child.”

But Julie is ready to go if asked be­cause she just wants to be a dancer.

“I’m just re­ally happy,” she said.


Julie Clarke of Bay Roberts will spend her sum­mer at Canada’s Na­tional Bal­let School in Toronto with hopes of earn­ing the chance to stay there in the fall as a full-time stu­dent.

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