A number of young Sunshine Coast dance students are contemplating a brighter future as professionals after passing auditions for the esteemed Joffrey Ballet School in New York City.
Camilla Pierre, 14, of West Sechelt, and Vienna Klikach, 14, of Halfmoon Bay, who both study at Coast Academy of Dance and Performing Arts in Sechelt, auditioned for a travelling panel of teachers from the Joffrey in Vancouver in January. Kaliyana Rohlicek-Denham and Natalie Martin, who are students at Waldorf Ballet in Sechelt, also passed their Joffrey auditions in January, as Coast Reporter reported Feb. 15.
“The audition wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” Camilla said in an interview. “I thought it would be a lot more intimidating. Everyone there was super-nice.”
Vienna said she was also anticipating a gruelling experience but was relieved to discover what it was like. “I don’t know if it was hard for other girls, but I thought it was easier than a lot of my classes here [in Sechelt],” she recalled. “It just goes to show that Coast Academy has really high training.”
It’s also a testament to the young dancers’ dedication to their craft, according to one teacher at the school. “Vienna and Camilla are very hard workers,” said Deborah Wheller, the Coast Academy of Dance’s studio manager.
Passing the Joffrey School audition and completing its four-year course of study can be a virtual ticket to a career as a dance professional and teacher. Those who have been officially accepted by the school through the audition process have until they turn 25 years old to attend. But it is expensive and means living in the U.S. for much of the time that students are enrolled. Neither of these girls is prepared to make that leap yet.
“I have a long time to decide, but I think I’m going to do it two years from now,” said Camilla, who wants to specialize in ballet. “I don’t think I’m ready to move away from home now. So, I’m going to wait on it and see.”
Vienna, who is interested in pursuing jazz and contemporary dance, said she is less certain right now about her career path, and admits it might not include the Joffrey School.
“I’m going to be taking the pre-professional program here [at Coast Academy], starting next year,” she said. “I want to get my teaching degree from this studio.”
Other Sunshine Coast students also successfully auditioned for the Joffrey School, including Eibhlein Minatsis, 13, of Gibsons, who studies at Dance Works Academy in Gibsons. Also accepted at were Dominique’s School of Dance students Annika Bergman and Quinn Anglin, both of Gibsons.