Ballerina lands on the big stage

Eleven-year-old Alexa McKinnon will be spending the summer with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet

Alexa McKinnon is one of 60 dancers who’ll be spending the summer training with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

Alexa McKinnon is one of 60 dancers who’ll be spending the summer training with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

It’s the dream of many young girls, to be a ballerina on a big stage.

This summer, Alexa McKinnon will be pirouetting a little closer to that goal.

“I’m kind of nervous,” says the 11-year-old, who just left Maple Ridge to spend a summer studying with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School’s Professional Division.

Landing a spot to learn from some of Canada’s best up-and-coming dancers and teachers was not an easy task.

Alexa auditioned for her spot, beating out dancers from across the world to snag one of 60 seats.

Not an easy task considering the prestige Royal Winnipeg Ballet carries. It was founded in 1939 by Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally and has gone on to perform for Queen Elizabeth II, win gold medals at the Paris International Dance Competition and feature the debut of Mikhail Baryshnikov after his defection in 1973. It’s a company steeped in history that recruits only the finest dancers.

The summer session is the second phase of RWB’s audition process. The next step is an audition for the full-time professional division.

Being a ballerina is a bit like being an athlete – you spot them young and mould their strength and flexibility. The summer session accepts students as young as 10.

Alexa knows dancing with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, even if it’s just for a summer, is a big commitment.

“Ballet is the fundamental of everything,” says the avid dancer, who dabbles in almost every style from tap to hip hop, lyrical, acrobatics, jazz and contemporary.

“I am really excited to learn more from some of the best.”

It’s the first time the St. Patrick’s School student will be away from home for such a long stretch.

She’ll have to do her own laundry and make sure her room is tidy for daily checks.

She is glad to be sharing a room with Brooke Thomas, a friend from Aldergrove’s Studio One Dance, where Alexa  has trained for the past seven years.

Alexa’s mother Donna admits she too is a little nervous to send her little girl away for the summer, but her nerves are calmed when she realizes her daughter is doing something she truly loves.

“I’m just really excited to see how she is technically going to change and how much she’s going to mature.”

The RWB School Professional Division is world renowned for its training.

More than 400 dancers and teachers have trained with the school since 1971.

Many students go on to dance with the RWB and other prestigious companies including the National Ballet of Canada.