Dancer has the world at her feet

26 Jun

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By Rebekah Jones and Chelsey Landford, Bond University journalism students

Gold Coast teenager Kelsey Stokes is on the fast track to becoming Australia’s next prima ballerina.

The 16-year-old burst onto the ballet scene after winning the chance to undertake tenureships with leading dance companies across the globe.

The opportunity came after she defeated 144 young dancers in 2012 to take out Australia’s most prestigious ballet award, the $18,000 McDonald’s Scholarship.

Kelsey said her victory came as a huge shock after only six months full-time coaching.

“I will never forget the feeling when they called my name,” she said.

“There were so many extremely talented competitors. I feel very lucky.”

Returning last week from a two-month stint with the Australian Ballet, Kelsey’s journey has only just begun.

She said the opportunity was invaluable and she could not wait to see what other companies had to offer.

“This was my first time training with a professional company,” she said.

“It’s such a different world and confidence can only be gained through experience.

“Each tenureship I undertake will enhance my technique and help me grow as a dancer.”

The scholarship will also see Kelsey dancing her way across Europe and America.

“I will have the opportunity to take classes with the Royal Danish Ballet Company, Royal Birmingham Company, Northern Ballet Company, Royal Ballet School, English National Ballet School, and Houston Ballet,” she said.

“I would ultimately love to launch my dancing career somewhere in Europe.”

Dance teacher Heidi Landford said exposure to the professional dance world would give Kelsey an edge in the ultra-competitive ballet scene.

“Kelsey has been given an opportunity that every dancer dreams of,” she said.

“This could make her name.”

Miss Landford said her student’s hard work and dedication had paid off.

“Kelsey trains 10 hours a day, five days a week,” she said.

“She’s the first one into the studio in the morning and the last one out in the afternoon.”

Kelsey said the scholarship could be the first step on the road to international recognition.

“If a director is interested in me during a tenureship and there is a position available in one of the companies, then I will hopefully be offered a full-time place,” she said.

In the next fortnight she will begin a three-week tenureship with the Queensland Ballet before heading abroad.

Caption: Kelsey Stokes is preparing to undertake tenureships with leading ballet companies around the world.

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