Twelve hours a week of stretches, pirouettes, and jetés have paid off for six Dance Fredericton students.
Pascale Lacroix, Sam Black, Emma Murray, Eve Justason, Micheline Desaulniers and Cameron Crowder earned summer spots at some of the top ballet schools in Canada.
Desaulniers, Justason and Murray are leaving this week to spend a month at Canada's National Ballet School in Toronto.
Desaulniers, 9, is too young to attend the full-year program, but Justason, 12, and Murray, 11, have the chance to have their stays extended for the entire school year if they impress their instructors.
Murray says she is excited about the opportunity.
"Well, I'd definitely like to learn ballet like the professionals," she says, "but I like it here because of all my amazing teachers.
I wouldn't make the audition without them."
Black and Crowder will spend a month at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet school, Crowder with a $1,000 scholarship. Lacroix is headed to L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec for two weeks.
Leslee Dell, an instructor at Dance Fredericton, has seen many of her students go on to professional school programs, but never six in the same year.
She says programs like these will really push her students to the brink.
"These national programs are evaluating their talent but they're also evaluating whether their facility can withstand the rigours of dance because it's total commitment — a total lifestyle commitment," she says.
"So it really will give them the true picture of what becoming a dancer is all about."
Full-year students at the National Ballet School have 10-hour days, with four hours of dance instruction and the rest for classes that follow the Ontario public school curriculum.
More than 1,000 dancers auditioned for the National Ballet school across Canada and less than 150 were called back for July's auditions.
Justason says she knows it's a big opportunity.
"I would really like to go because I think it would be a really good experience for me and I would like to improve more on my ballet and be better," she says.
The opportunity doesn't come cheap. Each dancer's family must pay about five-thousand dollars, plus expenses, for them to attend.