Kalina Cook may only be 12, but already she has a decade of dance behind her.
The Excalibur Theatre Arts studio dancer displayed her talent in a several disciplines last weekend at the 39th annual Prince George Dance Festival.
Her favourite number was performed to Nikki Flores’ Pretty Tragedy.
“The song has many layers of emotion so it was a good number for me to be able to express myself,” she said of her lyrical solo dance.
The beautiful music and choreography also included jumps where she displayed her highly toned athletic ability and agile flexibility.
Indeed, adjudicators commented on Kalina’s “expressive face” and noted that she seemed committed to her pieces.
Although she concedes that the pressure goes up when there are judges in the audience, Kalina says she doesn’t suffer from on stage jitters.
“Dance is like breathing, you just go out there and do it. You don’t really have to think about it.”
The straight A Foothills Elementary School student has jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop and musical theatre dance under her belt. She takes lessons and practices from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., three days a week in addition to her training for solos, duos, trios and small group performances leading up to performances.
From the time she was just two years old, Kalina has taken dance lessons.
She began dancing in a Family Y toddler program with dance instructor, Tina Sidorov. At age five, she began taking dance lessons at Excalibur. Then she tried out for Troupe and has danced competitively ever since. Kalina is one of the studio’s Sassy 7, a novice group of young dancers who have essentially grown up dancing together and who became best friends.
Kalina’s mother, Rosemary Brbot, who like most dance moms has a busy life that revolves around work, dance practices, recitals and competitions of her young daughter (she also has a daughter Alayna, 17, a competitive skater), spends many hours practicing and at competitions.
“Besides dancing together at Excalibur, the [Sassy 7] girls get together to celebrate their birthdays and they do activities like bowling and swimming together,” says Brbot. “The best thing with being a dancer is that it builds so much self-confidence, teamwork skills and great posture.”
Brbot, an instructor with special needs students at CNC, takes the role of dance mom in stride but she admits “it brings multi-tasking to a whole new level.”
“Dance families are busy but when you see your child performing on stage and you see how much they love it, it’s all worth it,” said Brbot. “We are very lucky at Excalibur to have Solveig Mathers and Jeanne Smallwood who make many of the costumes.”
Time management and teamwork on and off the stage is key, she said.
“When the dance numbers are close together and the girls require quick hair style and costume and make-up changes, it can get hectic. We work well together, Excalibur fosters a great family environment.”
Ultimately though, dancers themselves make it happen.
“Kalina packs her own gear, costumes, snacks and water bottles. At the studio, older dancers mentor younger ones and they help out at competitions with hair and makeup.
Excalibur’s Troupe dancers have just completed three festivals, the first in Quesnel, the second in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta followed by the Prince George Dance Festival this past weekend. Ballet and Highland exams are on this week, then the dancers will be working towards the year-end recital June 27 at Vanier Hall.