But to look at Lauren, a Mendive Middle School honor student, dancing is anything but clumsy for her. Lacing up her ballet point shoes, preparing for yet another class in her already class-filled schedule at the dance studio Ballet Nevada in Reno, the youngster looks comfortable, almost at home.
“She’s always dancing around the house,” said Sharon Janssen, Lauren’s mother and fellow classmate. “She would stay here (in the studio) every day if she could.”
And it shows.
Lauren’s form exudes discipline and poise, as she and her classmates prepare for class with basic stretches and bar exercises. She holds her head high, her back straight and proclaims that every dance move is her “favorite.”
It’s clear that Lauren loves to dance.
Which is why, as of a few weekends ago, Lauren and three of her classmates at Ballet Nevada competed in the Youth America Grand Prix, a prestigious international ballet competition, going up against more than 350 other participants in their age group.
After performing her final dance number “La Esmeralda,” Lauren has been invited back, this time to the YAGP Dance Intensive in New York City in April, where professional instructors and dancers from the likes of American Ballet Theater, Boston Ballet and Royal Winnipeg Ballet will be teaching intensive dance classes.
“I think my dancing could really take off,” Lauren said, visibly excited by the promise of such a one-on-one workshop. “I’m looking forward to meeting professional ballerinas and taking back what I learn to the studio.”
Before she gets there though, Ballet Nevada and its affiliate Inner Star Performing Arts of Nevada, Inc. are looking to raise the $3,000 needed to cover airfare and hotel accommodations, in hopes of sending Lauren so she can win a scholarship to leading dance schools.
“And I’ve never been to New York City before,” Lauren said. “I’ve always wanted to see the Statute of Liberty.”
Lauren, who has been dancing since she was 8 years old, originally hated ballet. A younger Lauren started with jazz and tap dancing classes, only trying ballet a few times before giving up on it.
“But we saw ‘The Nutcracker’ when I was really little and I just fell in love with ballet,” Lauren said. “I knew then that it was something I wanted to do.”
Listing off her dance idols, which include choreographer Bob Fosse and classical ballet dancers Gesley Kirkland and Natalia Osipova, Lauren said she realizes what it takes to be a successful dancer.
“It takes dedication, bottomless dedication,” said Lauren, who practices for three hours every day after school and for six hours on Saturday. “You have to be willing to put everything you have into it. You really have to give it your all.”
Ready to give it her all and excited to see where ballet takes her, Lauren already performs twice a year with Ballet Nevada and around town for various occasions, loving every minute of it, she said.
“I love to entertain,” Lauren said. “I consider ballet poetry in motion and trying to capture that is challenging, but fun.”
For more information or to donate, visit Ballet Nevada’s Web site at www.balletnevada.com.