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January 24, 2018

Dancing Dreams

Jessica Scheffee

A look at one Trafalgar girl’s year-long adventure in Alberta

Grade 11 student Selena Lombardi loves dance; so, when she departed for the School of Alberta Ballet in September 2016, it was a dream come true.

Her journey began two years earlier when she attended the summer program at Canada’s National Ballet School.  “After experiencing the training at Canada’s National Ballet School during the summer of 2014 I knew dancing was something I wanted to pursue.”

Following her time with the National Ballet, Selena attended the 2015 summer intensive at Kirov Academy in Washington, DC.  While at Kirov Academy she was offered the opportunity to attend their full-time professional program, but she wasn’t quite ready to leave home.

Selena continued to focus on dance while keeping up her academics and other co-curriculars at Trafalgar during her Grade 9 year before participating in the School of Alberta Ballet’s three-week summer intensive.   “After putting in hours and hours of dance I knew that attending the school full-time was something I really wanted to do. It would give me the chance to fully immerse myself in dance.”

When Selena received the news she had been accepted to the School of Alberta for her Grade 10 year she was excited, but also nervous. “I decided to attend the school the last night before the deadline after pondering the decision for several weeks.  I was terrified to live away from home in an entirely new environment.” Selena accepted the offer and challenged herself to take a path outside of her comfort zone.  A decision made, in part, thanks to the support and encouragement of her friends and teachers at Trafalgar.

In Alberta, Selena was part of the senior division.  Students from Grades 10 to 12 complete a four-course academic load in the morning, followed by a dance component in the afternoon from 1 to 5 p.m.  The dance program included daily classical ballet classes, as well as other dance class work including pointe classes, Pas de deux, repertoires, variations, and body conditioning.  “All of the dancing was extremely well done.  It was challenging and taught me a lot about personal discipline.”

While living, learning, and dancing at the Alberta School of Ballet, Selena gained a lot of independence. “I was living with people I had never met.  I had to learn to work with others and take each of our needs into consideration living in close quarters.”  Despite never living with anyone other than her family before, she says the best part about residence was always having someone to talk to.

“I became extremely close with all of the students in my grade as well as other students in the senior division.  We had classes together, danced together, and shared similar values and lifestyles with our common interest in dance.”

After a year away Selena chose to return home and to Trafalgar. “I realized I wanted to pursue a career as well as hone my passion as a contemporary dancer,” said Selena. “I had to choose the school that provided me the opportunity to succeed in both.”

Since returning to Trafalgar, Selena has found dance classes and workshops close to home so she can continue to improve and dance with professionals.  Though she misses dancing several hours a day and the artistic outlet the Alberta School of Ballet provided, she knows that Trafalgar is the place that will help her reach her greatest potential.

“The best aspect about being back at Trafalgar is the endless opportunities, support and challenges offered to further my education and personal development.  The teachers push us to become great thinkers, stay open minded and be excited for new challenges.  The various opportunities for exchange, leadership, as well as co-curriculars has allowed me to experience subject areas beyond dance.”

Selena knows that as a young girl it can be difficult to take that first step toward achieving your goals.  “The best advice I could give you is to follow your heart. It is easier said than done, but honestly, when you listen to what your heart is telling you to do, you will know what opportunities and challenges are worth striving for.”

She hopes her story encourages others to go forth and pursue their dream. “It will be terrifying at first; however, I promise that the adventure will be worth it in the end. You will discover so much about yourself, learn more about your craft, meet so many amazing people, and end up on paths you never thought you would walk on.”

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