Mikayla’s American Dream

Last year during December 2013 I was given the opportunity to go to the annual Cecchetti summer school held in Durban. At the end of the course, auditions were held for the prestigious 2014 Cecchetti International Classical Ballet Competition. In order to qualify for the competition, I along with a number of other South African applicants, needed to participate in a classical ballet and contemporary class which was to be reviewed by the panel of judges. These judges namely included Dr. Edward Greyling and Mrs. Kate Simmons (UK). Thereafter we all performed a classical and contemporary variation of our choice.  Once the process was over I was called into an interview with the adjudicators where they formally told me that I had been selected to represent South Africa in the 2014 CIBC.

Since then I prepared another classical variation, coached by Nicolette Loxton, and another contemporary variation, choreographed by Mthuthuzeli November. The end of July saw my 22 hour journey to America to participate in the competition with 4 other South African representatives. The competition was preceded by a course which all competitors took part in. Aged 15-19 from North America, South Africa, Australia, United States and Japan, a total of 39 dancers joined to participate in a muscle cramping, bunion aching and tear-jerking week of a drug we can’t get enough of, dance.

During the week prior to the competition, a good 5-6 hours was spent in a studio. First thing each morning 9-11.15 we had a set ballet class which was to be performed for the judges and audience. Then from 11.30 – 1pm we had a set contemporary class which was also to be performed however only counted towards scholarships and bursaries and not the final verdict. Thereafter each country was allocated a studio and given 15 minutes rehearsal time per student for our variations.

Thursday August 7th, the day we performed our first variation, contemporary. The day began with the performance of our class on stage which continued for a duration of 3 hours.  Much later we all set back to the theatre to perform our solos. Friday morning was slightly more stressful as the ballet class was the one that really counted, and the one that seemed to never end. After 3 and a half hours on stage we left and later returned to perform our variations.

Unfortunately I did not make it through the final round however on Saturday even after the finalists had danced all candidates were brought on stage for the announcement of scholarships and bursaries. Team South Africa showed their worth here with each representative bringing home a prize of some sort. I was beyond shocked when my name was called to accept the ‘Interlochen Arts Camp Scholarship Award’ awarded to me by our contemporary mistress, Angeline Wolf (Former principal dancer and Associate Artistic Director, Jennifer Muller/ The Works). I later found out that this was the school, situated in Michigan, where she spent 5 years of her dance career.

This experience was honestly beyond my expectations in every possible way, I was lucky enough to meet such passionate and down to earth with whom we all share one common interest, the love of dance. It took a lot of hard work and plenty a sacrifice but the experience that I gained from this adventure was unfathomable.


Written by Mikayla Isaacs 17/08/2014