KINGSTON, N.S. - Isaac Abriel is about to be pushed to his limits.
And he couldn’t be happier.
The 18-year-old will finish out his final year at West Kings District High School this month and shift his focus to preparing for a life-changing trip to California.
Abriel was recently accepted into the prestigious Mather Dance Company’s Bridge Into The Industry program.
“My dancing will be improved tremendously, and they really get you connected with the dance world in LA,” he said in a phone interview June 19.
“It’s a very intensive program, very tough, very hard.”
The 11-month program spans from September to August and comes with a tuition cost of $5,000 USD.
“Being a world-renowned studio, the program is very exclusive with a long audition process. It is an absolute honour that I was one of the 16 selected from the many who auditioned, and will be training with some of the most talented dancers in North America, with some of the world’s most sought-after teachers and choreographers,” wrote the Kingston resident in a sponsorship letter circulated to some local businesses.
“Coming out of this program I will have all the tools to become a successful working dancer; from connections with talent agencies across North America, to all the physical training, counselling, mentoring, and experience I need to enter the professional industry.”
As a member of the local Precision Dance Association’s Senior Competitive Company, Abriel has gained key contacts that opened his eyes to the options available in California.
“Isaac’s sophisticated grasp of knowledge of dance shines through every time he performs. He is always willing to learn more and to grow as a student. To me, these are qualities I can only dream of having in a student, and he meets them all,” wrote Precision Dance Association artistic director Sidney McIlroy in a reference letter.
“I can say with complete confidence that Isaac has the artistic and physical capabilities to succeed in the dance industry, or whatever path he chooses in his life.”
Abriel is looking forward to transitioning from a competitive dancer to a professional, working dancer. He’d welcome any opportunity to do what he loves for a living but would be beyond thrilled to land a gig as a back-up dancer for a touring group or famous singer.
“I always knew that I wanted to do that but it never seemed like a realistic thing that I could do,” he said.
He originally thought he’d go to university and study something relating to science until some industry professionals watched him in action at competitions and told him they saw something in him.
“That was pretty exciting,” he said.
He had to write a compelling essay, demonstrate his ability to learn multiple dance styles, crush a solo and master choreography to secure his spot in the Mather Dance Company’s program. His favourite style of dance is lyrical.
“It’s a combination of ballet and jazz technique and it’s all about emotion and telling a story,” said Abriel.
He plans to spend the summer working to save up for the adventure that awaits, and training to ensure he makes his presence known in the demanding dance industry. He is seeking sponsorship to help with the added costs of accommodations, transportation, food, costumes and competition fees while he is studying in California.