Sign up for our free weekday bulletin.

Dancer, 12, off to prestigious ballet school

Published on

Cathy Dobson

Her favourite challenge is dancing en pointe wearing dainty ballet shoes. And she swoons when she talks about Mikhail Baryshnikov in Don Quixote.

Evidently, Sarnia`s Annabelle Holland is not a typical 12-year-old.

She dances at least 15 hours a week and when she’s not dancing, she’s reading about professional dance or watching ballet online.

The unwavering focus will be rewarded this fall when she leaves home to attend the prestigious Quinte Ballet School of Canada, one of the country`s top professional ballet schools.

It’s something Anabelle’s been working toward since she started dancing at age three, says her mother Karen Holland.

“I’m very proud of her. She has been focused on this for so long and now her dream is unfolding,” she said.

Annabelle, a student at Shirley Schram’s Sarnia Ballet School, successfully auditioned for Quinte’s summer intensive program. The intensive is a prerequisite for the full-year program but doesn`t guarantee a spot.

The two-hour audition was stressful because it involved only her and one other girl, said Annabelle.

“We had to do basic jumps, basic bar work and exercises so they could see our body alignment,” she explained.  The American Ballet Theater in Alabama also accepted Annabelle into its intensive program. She said she chose Quinte because the instructors seemed friendlier “but work you as hard as you can.”

Once in the intensive program, Annabelle was carefully observed, then learned she is one of 10 girls from a pool of 90 offered a position at Quinte in 2015.

If she continues to be accepted into the full time program in Belleville every year, Annabelle – who is entering Grade 8 – could attend until she finishes high school, then potentially join a professional company, says teacher Shirley Schram.

“Only a few continue on because of the long, gruelling hours but Annabelle is very committed,” said Schram.  “It’s certainly hard work and it’s tough to be en pointe all the time.”

Annabelle says she was drawn to ballet because of how it challenges and stretches her body.

“I love the flow and I love how you can move to the music, even when there are no words.

“For me, dancing is not stressful. Being en pointe isn’t as challenging as people think. The worst thing is the blisters, but I really enjoy it and it’s amazing to watch.”

She leaves in two weeks to begin the new adventure.

“Annabelle wants to do this very much,” said her mom.  “We didn’t have much time to make the decision but it’s an exceptional opportunity.

“All we can do is give her the best possible support for what she wants to do.”

The Arts Journal highlights events and individuals contributing to the cultural fabric of our community.  If you have a suggestion, contact Cathy Dobson at cathy.dobson @thesarniajournal.ca or 226-932-0985.

More like this