Walking into the ballet studio at the Scotia Bank Dance Centre in Vancouver, Brooke Thomas wasn’t sure of what to expect.
With her hair neatly pulled back, the 10-year-old wore the number 23 pinned to her black body suit.
Along with close to 30 other dancers, she was about to audition for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet summer school.
“There were so many of us , they had to move four extra barres into the centre of the room.”
When the instructors gave the applicants direction to jump, Brooke knew it was her time to shine.
“The guy came and looked at me doing the jumps. I was pretty sure I did it right, but not totally sure.”
Yet within that same week, a letter arrived at the Thomas residence, indicating the young dancer had been chosen to attend the prestigious ballet school’s month-long summer workshop.
With another ballet audition scheduled later that same week for the National Ballet of Canada’s summer program, the letter of acceptance relieved a little pressure for Brooke.
“We were pretty sure that she would go to the Royal Winnipeg, but we chose to still audition for the National because it would be a good experience,” said Brooke’s mom, Brenda.
With the National Ballet of Canada, the dancers find out directly following the audition whether they are chosen.
Brooke’s number was one out of the five called.
When she attended her dance classes that week at Dynamic Dance, Brooke shyly told her teachers that she would be deciding between both schools.
“I guess you could kind of say that they were proud of me,” she said, sitting on the couch beside her seven-year-old sister Paige.
The two sisters often practise their routines in their living room, so much so that their mom moves the furniture up against the walls, in order to create enough space.
Her family, along with her teachers understand that getting into one national ballet summer school is an accomplishment for a young dancer. Getting into two is something else. The RWB and the National’s summer programs are a separate audition for the year-long programs that lead into the professional divisions.
The family has since decided that Brooke will attend the RWB this summer.
Brenda explained that if Brooke got in to the school, she would possibly attend the year-long programs when she is in high school.
“To live away from home at 11, that’s pretty young,” said Brenda, with Brooke nodding emphatically.
Dancing from the age of three, Brooke said that although the competitive reality of ballet makes her scared, it would be cool if she was one of the few who has a dancing career.
Even with graduation close to eight years away, Brooke already knows what she would do: “I would dance.”