Sarah Wilkerson has been studying ballet for the past 10 years, and she’s only 13.
But that’s not so unusual for young people burning for a professional dancing career, as are Sarah and the dozens of other teenagers who came Sunday to audition at the Kansas City Ballet’s Todd Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity.
At stake was a chance to attend classes this summer in New York at the School of American Ballet, whose alumni populate the New York City Ballet and other dance companies nationwide. Doing well in the School of American Ballet’s summer program can lead to an invitation to attend the school full-time, a ticket for the fast track to a dancing career.
“If you can make it to the SAB, you have a pretty good chance. We have a very strong record,” said audition administrator, Amy Bordy.
Kansas City is among 20 U.S. cities where the school has been holding auditions for its summer program, Bordy said. She expects more than 2,000 dancers ages 12 to 18 to try out for about 200 openings.
Sarah said she has wanted to be a dancer ever since she first watched “The Nutcracker” at age 3.
“I thought it was so cool the way they could stand on their toes, their balance. I just wanted to be like them,” the Mission resident said.
In the Bolender Center’s theater, Katrina Killian, a member of the School of American Ballet’s faculty, put the young dancers through their paces in group lessons. As they did their pliés and arabesques, Killian watched them closely.
Yes, strength, flexibility and body proportions count, she said. “But on top of that, you need the energy.”
came out of the audition flushed and excited.
“It went really well,” she said. “It was a hard class, but I really liked it.”