“It was a great opportunity for Kelowna dancers to be seen in a wider context,” is how Natasha Sarafanov described local dancers performances at the recent Youth America Grand Prix competition in Seattle.
Lydia Jane Angel-Fox, Clare Fleming and Kendra Haskett were representing three Kelowna dance schools: Sarafanov Dance Studio, Canadian School of Ballet and Creators Art Centre.
There were close to 400 dancers from Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia competing at this year’s event.
Angel-Fox, who just turned 15, danced what Sarafanov described as, “the best performance of her life,” at the event and was selected to attend the prestigious Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet Academy by the Russian American Foundation in New York, with the opportunity to go to the Bolshoi in Russia as well.
“I’m really excited,” said Angel-Fox. “I’m trained in the Russian style and feel really comfortable with it, so I’m really looking forward to this.”
Fleming, who placed in the top 12 in the contemporary category, is now invited to New York City for the Youth America Grand Prix finals week this April, where she is eligible to attend a full slate of workshops with other top young dancers from around the world.
“These girls work so hard,” noted Sarafanov, “dancing before school, after school, every day on the weekends—you don’t reach this kind of level without hard work.”
Haskett, who also scored well with a strong performance, said one of the nice things about the Seattle competition was getting to connect with other dancers.
This was the largest competition she’d ever attended. “Once you get out there and start dancing, the nerves fade away,” she said.
The success of the three dancers has a lot to do with their highly intensive training. All three seek extra classes at different local dance schools.
Sarafanov, who opened her studio five years ago to share the Russian training that helped her oldest son, Leonid Sarafanov, go on to become one of the top international dancers in the world today, believes in varied training. “It’s good for the dancers because if (a teacher) gets too familiar with a dancer you might not see the same things that fresh eyes do.”
Sarafanov extended congratulations to the dancers’ other teachers—Melville Brown and Chris Larsen of the Canadian School of Ballet and Emma Donley of Creators Arts Centre.
“We just want to celebrate the fact that we did it together,” said Sarafanov.
“We’d love to have all the dance schools get together, not in competition but to perform together.”