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I believe dancing is a magical form of expression we all possess. Some, perhaps express themselves more gracefully than others. When we let ourselves “go”; sway, bump or grind to our favourite tunes, one can get lost in the rhythm and truly believe we’ve got the most original moves on the dance floor. Music & dancing have the ability to free our souls, release tension and allow our bodies to move freely in a way that is unique to each of us.
But then there are those very special people that naturally have stupendous talent which sets them in a league of their own.
My personal dance expressions were best left on the dance floor at Studio 54 in the late 1970’s but as a great lover of all aspects of dance, I truly appreciate the raw talent of young artists bursting at the seams to express themselves. So does my partner Deborah Nielsen. She had a secret desire to become a dancer when she was young but life has a way of taking us in whatever direction we are supposed to go. For Deb it would be a career in Interior Design but her love of dance has not been wasted. It was her idea to sponsor our newest athlete Hannah.
Hannah is the niece of a good friend of ours that we met several years go through running…of course. It is seldom that you will find such a young person this focused, balanced, smart and talented with absolutely no attitude or sense of entitlement.
Hannah is a strong, healthy vibrant young woman who can bend, twirl and leap with such ease and grace it’s hard to believe she is real. This girl is quite refreshing!
This astounding 15 year old is not only an extremely talented dancer but also an honour roll student at Yale Secondary. She will be attending University of the Fraser Valley (UFV), in early September. She will go to night school on top of high school during the day. By the time Hannah is in grade 12 she will barely need to attend high school as she already has enough credits to graduate early.
Hannah dances at the Absolute Dance Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. She recently auditioned for the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School under the encouragement of her dance instructors Janine Laidlaw & Charlene Hart; a top 10 finalist in Season 3 of So You Think You Can Dance Canada. This would be Hannah’s first audition.
During our first meeting she explained to Deb & I that her passion for dance stemmed from her love of the sport and does not feel competitive about it. A good friend of hers that she dances with at Absolute also encouraged her to audition for Joffrey as it would be a good experience for Hannah. Dancing under pressure.
It seemed to me that most young dancers would chomp at the bit for such an opportunity and don’t get me wrong, Hannah was thrilled but didn’t have any expectations.
As it turned out, like in a fairy tale, Hannah was accepted to the Joffrey’s intensive program for the month of July in NYC. PLUS they offered her a position with any of the Joffrey Dance Companies worldwide in their pre-professional training program for 4 years following her graduation from high school.
The cost for the NYC July session was $8000 U.S.!!! The creativity and sheer determination Hannah went to, along with her brother, friends and family to raise the funds just demonstrates this girl’s extreme dedication, work ethic and a relentless desire to succeed.
She sold hot dogs, did car washes, bottle drives, silent auction (CA5 donated some clothing) and burger & brew night to raise money.
M e e t
H a n n a h B i l i n s k i !
B. How long have you been dancing?
H. 12 years
B. What interested you in taking dance?
H. Initially, I wanted to be a pretty ballerina when I was little but I soon fell in love with everything about dance.
B. What styles of dance do you practice?
H. I do ballet, pointe, contemporary, jazz, lyrical, hip hop & musical theatre.
B. Do you have a specific dance style you prefer and why?
H. I love performing Ballet because it shows such strength & beauty & grace all at the same time.
B. What grade are you in now?
H. Grade 10 going into grade 11.
B. How many hours per week do you take dance classes and do you ever just dance for fun with friends?
H. I dance on average 13 -15 hours a week but I dance in my spare time as well.
B. What motivates & inspires you to dance?
H. I am constantly inspired by my peers as well as my teachers and professionals.
B. What other things do you do for exercise and fun?
H. In my little spare time that I have you can find me stretching, drawing, painting and dancing even more!
B. Does dancing and taking dance classes interfere with your school?
H. It can be very hard to find spare time to do homework and do it the best of my ability but I love dance and wouldn’t want to give it up. English & art are my favourite subjects.
B. How did the audition go and what was the experience like?
H. The audition was super fun and just like any normal ballet technique class that I would take.
B. How do you feel about going to NYC for a month to study and practice dance with one of the top dance companies in the world?
H. I am so excited to travel and get the opportunity to do such an amazing thing. I’m excited to meet new friends and learn from some of the best.
B. How did you hear about CA5 Athletics?
H. My aunt Samantha Gill is a friend of the company owners and I had received some of their clothing as a gift once. When the opportunity to represent such an amazing company came along, I knew I couldn’t turn down the offer.
B. What sort of things would you like to see in the Hannah dance wear line?
H. High waist tights! The only ones out there are low rise and they tend to fall down – especially during tap…and high neck tops.
B. As a young female dancer who has just been accepted into such a great school/company, do you feel there is a message you would like to give to other aspiring female dancers?
H. I would tell them to learn to be confident. Dance is a very strict sport and you need to learn to understand that not every teacher will appreciate your style as much as the next. But when you are confident you never know what could happen!
Hannah has inspired us to create a new fun and exciting, youthful line of dance wear for women simply called HANNAH. Her designs are fresh and creative. CA5 Athletics is all about supporting local talent and encouraging everyone to be the best they can be physically no matter how you go about it. We are all about clothing that inspires you to move!
We will start launching the HANNAH line gradually in Fall/Winter 2015 which will be available on our on-line store. A percentage of sales will go to Hannah to assist with her education and dancing.
Hannah returned from NYC last week so I was able to follow up with her on her experience at the Joffrey Ballet School. This is what she had to say about her experience as a 15 year old dancer on her own in the Big Apple.
” New York was truly amazing and it couldn’t have been more amazing. It was amazing to spend a month with people who all shared a love for dance from all around the world.
A typical day would mean that I would get up just before 7 AM and head downstairs to pick up breakfast and then get ready for class. We would leave for class around 8 and our classes would begin around 9. First we would start with technique classes and partnering or pointe.
Then we would have a lunch break before we started our rehearsals for the performance. Also twice a week we would have dance history or nutrition.
After rehearsals finished we would take the subway home and go pick up dinner. After dinner we would normally go right to bed to start the whole thing over again or if we had enough energy, we might go out or hang out with friends in the dorms.
During the week of our shows though, instead of going home we would then take the subway to the theatre, where we would either have tech rehearsals or extra practices on the stage for spacing, where we wouldn’t get home until 10 PM!
Over all, I would go back in a heartbeat. It was just so amazing to meet so many people who are just like you and all wanted to achieve the same goals”.
Hannah Bilinski – Dancer