When Clara Kearl found out how she would be spending her summer, she was so excited she could dance.
Luckily for the 12-year-old Langdon resident that dancing is just what she has been doing for the entire month of July.
Kearl earned one of 10 prestigious Investors Group National Scholarships to spend the month training with more than 200 international dancers at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
Last year, Kearl trained at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, but this scholarship covers more than half of her family’s costs. For someone focused on eventually becoming a ballerina, Clara is on a great path.
“I just love to dance, so to do it all day every day is pretty awesome,” Clara said.
“Last summer, I was so scared to come here that I almost didn’t want to. I begged my parents not to leave me there too. I know what I’m up for this year so I’m not scared anymore. You get really exhausted but it’s so worth it.
“I went to the audition (last fall) thinking I wouldn’t be coming back. I just wanted that extra ballet class. We got the scholarship and I was so shocked. I started to get excited and decided I should go.”
This past season Clara danced at the International School of Ballet in Calgary, but she’s weighing her options for the fall. There’s a chance that she could get offered a spot in Winnipeg for the school year.
It would be tough for Clara’s family to have her away for that long a time, but right now they are just focused on having her train during the summer as the session ends July 29.
“Last year, I remember driving out and crying the whole way,” said Clara’s mother Roberta Kearl. “This year, it wasn’t so bad. I was hoping she would get along with her roommates but it’s not as intimidating as last year was.
“This is something she does now. Next year, we hope she goes a little bit farther too, unless they offer her a full-time position here. There’s the opportunity for that. That’s where the mind focus is right now, that possibility.”
Clara grew up dancing in all types of disciplines, so much so that during some of her previous year-end recitals she would be part of 10 dances.
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago during a summer-camp program for ballet that she turned her focus towards the elegant dance. Now she can’t get enough of it.
“It’s different because before I hated ballet,” Clara said. “I didn’t want to do anything to with ballet. Then I went to this one summer camp for a week and I fell in love with it.
“There’s something about it that I loved more than any other style than dance. I loved the movement, and the way your fingers move a light all the way through your body.”
While Clara is in Winnipeg, she will be doing extensive work in ballet in pointe technique. Along with classical training, she will receive comprehensive education in character and modern dance.
There is also a class component that features historical dance, music and improvisation among other things.
“The best part is the director of the school (Arlene Minkhorst) is an incredible person in the ballet world,” Roberta said. “To have the opportunity to learn from her is pretty amazing.”