Victoria dance troupe to attend Canadian workshop
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Kennedy Velasquez followed in her mother's ballet slippers by dedicating her life to dance.
The 13-year-old Victoria native said seeing her mother dance inspired her to try. She takes seven classes a week with the Victoria Ballet Theatre.
"I can get into it and be creative with myself," she said.
Her mother, Kristie Dicken, was a founding dance member with the company in 1984.
The doting duo has worked together and Kennedy enjoys it.
"If I have trouble with something, I can ask her how I can be a better dancer," Kennedy said.
But there is a flipside to working together. Kennedy said she received more correction than her classmates.
Like most adolescent daughters, Kennedy said, "OK, Mom I get it," she said jokingly.
The 39-year-old mother of two said her youngest daughter has always had a natural ability to perform and she wants to help Kennedy have self-confidence.
"You can be the best dancer, but what matters is that the audience can see your passion," she said.
The seventh-grade Stroman Middle School student and her speech teacher mom will learn about dance together in the Regional Dance America festival in Montreal, Canada.
Twenty-five members of the Victoria Ballet Theatre and 16 parents/supporters traveled to the workshop on Monday.
Members of the Victoria Ballet Society, a parent organization, donated $15,000 for the budding ballerinas to attend the festival.
The premise of the festival includes providing educational and performing opportunities for students and networking opportunities for directors and teachers, according to the organization's website.
Students will also be able to take master classes in ballet, tap, modern and jazz. Fitness and nutrition workshops will also be available.
Some of the senior company members from Victoria will perform in front of thousands of dance enthusiasts for a one-time performance on Wednesday.
Brenda Tally, the company's executive director, said it's quite a feat to be able to participate in the weeklong festival.
VBT members auditioned years ago to become a part of the elite group. Tally said her teaching genes caused her to plan a tour for the group to experience Canadian culture with historic and fun tours.
"It's a great opportunity for the kids to meet others with similar goals," she said.
Tally added that a new venue exposes students to college recruiters and new techniques.
Kennedy said she doesn't know much French, but is open to learn a little during her trip.
Her face lit up talking about the Cirque du Soleil workshop.
"All I know is, it's clowning and sounds like a lot of fun," she said.
The dedicated dancer said she will make an honest attempt not to be too critical of herself. Later she had an epiphany.
"I need to focus on myself to be a better dancer, instead of paying attention to the other girls," she said.