Taste of professional lifestyle opens eyes of young dancer

Posted: Thursday, December 28, 2000

After Kathryn Lindow attended a competitive and world-class dance school in July she returned home with memories and a taste of professional ballet.

The experience of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School Professional Division in Winnipeg, Manitoba, reinforced the 13-year-old Kenai girl's commitment to a career in dance, but left her unsure of her next step. Her choices are either stay home for the summer or wet her feet with more dance experience.

Though Kathryn has been dancing since she was a toddler with Vergine's Dance Studio, she said the years of training and her new experience have helped improve her techniques.

"I keep getting more refined, the more I do," she said.

While refining her style, the trip away also was new for her.

"I wasn't sure exactly what to expect," Kathryn said.

What she got was a fun trip that broadened her horizons.

Her parents were not quite sure what to expect, either, and were nervous about her going alone.

"That was her first time, really, leaving home," her mother, Rita, said.

Rita said she was impressed with the instructors, dress code and strict policy against talking in class that Kathryn discussed with her.

"I felt she was in a safe environment," Rita said.

While in Canada, Kathryn lived in a shared dormitory room off school premises. She traveled between the ballet school and her room several times a day to attend ballet, creative movement and historical dance classes. Class size ranged between 20 and 30 students her age.

"It was a full schedule most of the time," she said, but her off time was filled with going to movies and sampling local cuisine.

From the class experiences, she said, she learned to be more respectful of her teachers.

"They (the teachers) were real picky," Kathryn said.

Her future plans, which include teaching dance, were enhanced by the trip.

"In order to be a teacher, I must have that level of professionalism," she said, explaining that the school helped her realize even more that ballet is what she wants.

She said she loved the overall experience.

Although she called her parents daily, Kathryn said, it did not bother her to be away. In fact, Rita said her daughter mentioned before she came home that she wanted to stay because she was where kids "lived and breathed dance."

"It was an environment where she thrived," Rita said.

She said Kathryn was not able to stay at the school full time because her forms stated her admission was only for the summer.

Though the experience did not last as long as Kathryn wanted, Rita said she thought it topped Kathryn's career list -- so far.

Rita said she believes the school helped Kathryn to see she enjoyed the professional dance environment and helped confirm she wanted to stay on that path.

"I think it was pretty cool that she got to see a professional company (at work)," Rita said. "It will be interesting to see where she is in five years."

Kathryn also worked with the professionals in Ballet West when she was part of the Nutcracker Ballet in Anchorage in November.

While her summer was one of a kind, Kathryn said, she is not sure about her plans for 2001. Though more time at Winnipeg would be great, she said, she missed summer activities while she was gone.

"I think this year I just want to have fun."

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