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On pointe: Nanaimo ballerina invited to National Ballet School

Mikaela Kos was three weeks into an intense summer training program at the National Ballet School in Toronto when administrators called her mom.

Kos was training every day in the ballet program, with dance classes in technique, en pointe and in character, plus pool conditioning to strengthen her muscles.

Kos was one of a handful of ballet students from across Canada asked to attend the school’s full-time program in Toronto.

“I’m kind of surprised but excited at the same time because it’s an amazing opportunity,” Kos said.

The audition program for the ballet school came in three phases – an audition in Victoria, where teachers hosted a ballet class to look for general technique; summer school for four weeks in Toronto, where the students lived in residence; and then a final request that goes to the parents, rather than the students.

“The kids have no idea what is going on,” said Leah Kos, Mikaela’s mom.

The invitation was a surprise to Mikaela, she said.

“We just went to summer school for fun,” Mikaela Kos said. “It’s really nice knowing they thought I had talent.”

What follows for Kos is a year of not only intense ballet training, but also academic study.

Her day starts at 8:30 a.m. with classes, followed by two hours of ballet practice. She gets a short lunch, followed by more ballet and academic classes before the day ends at 6:45 p.m. As Christmas gets closer, she and her classmates will begin rehearsal on The Nutcracker. By then, she’ll be dancing seven days per week.

Kos was about five or six when she slid her feet into a pair of tap dance shoes and began classes at Kirkwood Academy on Bowen Road. Her mom taught dance classes focused on stage, but Kos found herself drawn to the technical aspects of classical ballet.

Clara, from The Nutcracker, is one of her favourite roles – one that she performed last year with Kirkwood – and from the same ballet she would like to one day dance to the famous strains of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Swan Lake is another favourite ballet.

Kos is following in the footsteps of her ballet idols who also dance for the National Ballet – Heather Ogden and Jillian Vanstone, who also hails from the Harbour City.

Kos said she finds it difficult to pinpoint exactly what she loves about classical ballet but the fast footwork and elaborate costumes are two aspects that immediately spring to mind.

“It’s an ever-growing love,” Kos said. “I don’t think it’s ever going to stop.”

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