At only 11 years old, Oxford dancer Elizabeth Gerke has been invited to pack her bags and spend a month at the prestigious Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Professional Division Summer Session – by herself.
Although Elizabeth has danced many styles, including jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary and hip hop, ballet has become her favorite and it’s the one she hopes to continue improving in.
Elizabeth auditioned for Royal Winnipeg Ballet staff on Jan. 8 in Windsor, Canada and she received the good news about two weeks later.
“I was really excited because (the program is) really hard to get into . . . I’m not really that nervous because I know I’m going to be getting really great training there,” said Elizabeth with a smile.
The prestigious four-week program covers ballet and pointe techniques, character dance and modern dance, with supplementary education on everything from improvisation to nutrition. It is also considered to be a second-stage audition for the Ballet’s full-year academic program, where children from grades 6-12 board at the school and complete their education while dancing.
Elizabeth will attend the program located in Winnipeg, Canada from July 1 through July 27.
Although Elizabeth said she will miss her family and friends while she’s away, she believes it’s worth it to pursue her dream.
The school boasts an international reputation for providing the highest quality training to its dancers.
Elizabeth has been dancing ballet since she was 4 years old and has been dancing on pointe – which means she goes up on her toes with specially-designed shoes – for about a year.
Her goal is to someday become a professional ballerina.
Only around one in five of those who audition are selected for the full-year program, according to the school’s website.
She hopes to be among the select few who will be invited to dance for the full year at Winnipeg, which would begin in September, so she can soak up all the knowledge and gain all the experience she possibly can.
To get there, Elizabeth will have to raise money towards tuition and airfare for the trip. She plans to do this by organizing local garage sales and bake sales.
For now, she dances several times a week at the Rochester School of Dance, where she has practiced the last three years and is continuing her classes at Oxford Middle School.