Calgary

Tate McRae, 12, Calgary dancer a Top 10 contestant on So You Think You Can Dance

Calgary dancer Tate McRae has had a month that many 12-year-old-girls can only dream about. It began with dancing on stage beside Justin Bieber and was capped off this week when she was named one of the Top 10 contestants on So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation.

What a month: first dancing with Justin Bieber and now vying for first place in TV competition

Tate McRae, 12, was just named as one of the Top 10 contestants on So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation. (Supplied)

Calgary dancer Tate McRae has had a month that many 12-year-old-girls can only dream about.

It began with dancing on stage alongside Justin Bieber on June 13 and was capped off this week when she was named one of the Top 10 contestants on So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation

"It was just amazing. I was just dancing my heart out and just doing what I love on stage and I was really out of breath because I'd just done a three-minute piece; it's quite tiring."

Judge Paula Abdul was effusive in her praise of McRae. 

"I wish there was a word to describe how much you touched me. That was perfection. Watching you move, it's like a ripple effect in the lake ... it is seamless from start to finish. You are a gift from God."

A breathless and delighted McRae thanked Abdul.

Both experiences were pinch-me-I'm-dreaming moments for her. But they didn't come without a lot of hard work, which included practicing ballet every morning before going to school. 

Dancing with Bieber 'surreal'

Her dedication to dance brought her the huge leaps in success over the past six years, including an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneris Show and a appearing in a music video for Canadian band Walk Off the Earth's video Rule the World.

Then the Bieber experience came along after she learned the moves for his Purpose tour and submitted a video that got her on the stage. The night was even more exciting because it was also the first live concert she'd ever attended. 

"That was just so exciting. He's one of my all-time favourite artists so it was pretty surreal to be on stage dancing beside him," she told the Calgary Eyeopener on Wednesday.

McRae, who attends the School of Alberta Ballet in Calgary, prefers contemporary dance but also does ballet and hip-hop. She started dancing recreationally at age six, and competitively at eight.

"I've been so excited and grateful for the opportunities that have come my way so it's been pretty incredible."

Hard work paying off

McRae says she'd worked hard to get to auditions on So You Think You Can Dance.

"I've been watching the show for forever and the fact I was able to audition and show my solo to those three judges was absolutely amazing. I felt like my hard work had really paid off."

The audition in New York required a series of dances and interviews over four days, and then she eventually got in front the judges.

But the experience of dancing and getting to meet Bieber on stage ranks right up there with all of her most recent accolades.  

"He said 'good luck' to us and said 'we're going to nail it.'"

Sounds like McRae will continue to do just that.

She'll be taking her dancing career to the next level and training with one of her mentors, Kathryn McCormick, another successful So You Think You Can Dance alumna and will begin to tape upcoming episodes of the show in Los Angeles. 

Tate McRae, 12, attends the Professional Division at the School of Alberta Ballet and trains with YYC Dance Project, an elite training program that travels to the U.S. to compete. (Tate McRae/Facebook)
 

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