Off to ballet school
Local girl accepted to National Ballet School summer program
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.
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.