IT was a double celebration in the Takitimu household when sisters Breyah (13) and Danye (11) found out they had both been accepted into New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD) programmes this year.
Both girls said they were very excited to have been selected because they had not expected to get in.
“I just auditioned for the experience,” Breyah said. “I am also excited because it is contemporary.”
Breyah auditioned along with more than 150 dancers from throughout New Zealand in September to gain a place in the NZSD Junior Associates programme majoring in contemporary dance, and Danye auditioned in Wellington with more than 50 other young dancers in November to be selected for the NZSD Scholars Level 2 programme.
The national programmes provide tuition for students and a pathway to becoming a professional dancer in classical ballet or contemporary dance. The Scholars programme is for dancers from aged 10 and the Associates programme is for dancers aged 13 to 16 years.
NZSD classical tutor and head of associates Christine Gunn said a maximum of 30 associates were selected each year across the three levels of the Associates programme.
The numbers in the Scholars programme varied depending on talent, she said. As it was a training programme, the numbers were kept low in order for the selected few to gain maximum benefit from the classes.
As part of the programme, Danye is required to travel to Wellington seven times during the year to attend classes and Breyah is required to attend four weekend courses in Wellington and undertake up to seven Master classes in her region with the Royal New Zealand Ballet company.
This is the second time Breyah had taken part in a NZSD programme, after being selected for the Scholars programme two years ago.
The girls’ mother, Carrie Takitimu, said she had mixed feelings about their selection.
She was extremely proud of their achievement because she knew how tough it was to get in, but the cost of the trips to Wellington would be a challenge, she said.
“I know it is hard for kids to get into the NZSD, so it is pretty cool for two of your own to get in.
“They are two very passionate girls. They always have been, so what else can you do when they work so hard?”
Mrs Takitimu credited the teachers at the girls’ dance studio, La Muse, for instilling their love of dance.
“Both girls have been at La Muse since they were 3 years old. They have had great teachers and have always loved coming to class.”
La Muse dance teacher Hana Skeggs said she was “ecstatic” both girls had been accepted into the NZSD programmes.
“It is a massive achievement and especially notable because they come from a small place that doesn’t get a lot of exposure, so when opportunities present themselves, it is awesome they grasp them and give it 110%.”