Mia Mrakuzic will be spending part of the summer living a dream as she joins other exceptional young dancers for classes with the National Ballet of Canada. Photo courtesy Metroland Media

Leap of faith: Young dancer lands a coveted spot in National Ballet summer program

  • March 16, 2018
When Christine Mrakuzic enrolled her three-year-old daughter Mia in dance, the idea was to help her overcome anxiety.

It did that… and much more.

Now 11, Mia has danced her way to an incredible opportunity with the National Ballet of Canada. The Grade 6 student at St. Gabriel Catholic Elementary School in Stoney Creek, Ont., has been accepted into the highly competitive Junior Summer Intensive Program in July with Canada’s premier ballet company.

“We started the dance process because Mia had very severe anxiety,” said Christine. “We wanted to get her socializing with other kids as well. It has helped her tremendously with both.”

Mia’s natural talent for ballet was noted by her teachers, Alice Burke and Chelsea Wainwright at EDC Dancers Inc. in Beamsville, Ont., a small town in the heart of the Niagara peninsula and a short drive from their home in Winona. 

Both Burke and Wainwright encouraged Christine to enrol Mia in private ballet lessons. In September 2016, Mia went straight from Level 5 to Level 7 in ballet. She also graduated from a soft ballet slipper to a pointe shoe, a progression that takes years for most dancers. 

Last fall, Mia auditioned for all three Canadian ballet schools: the School of Alberta Ballet in Calgary, The Joffery School of Ballet in Toronto and the National Ballet of Canada. She was accepted into all three. Over 1,000 dancers between Grades 5 to 12 auditioned for the National Ballet’s Summer Intensive in Toronto. Mia was one of 175 who made the cut. 

“I chose the National Ballet because it’s one of the top 10 in the world,” said Mia. “It’s also close to home. When I auditioned for it, I was really nervous but once I started dancing it was a lot of fun. I told myself I gave it my all and that’s what matters. I was really proud of myself when I got in.”

Mia wants to become a professional ballerina someday. Her dream role? Anything in The Nutcracker

“It was the first ballet she had ever seen. We took her this winter,” said Christine. “After the Summer Intensive, she can audition for the year-long program which combines dance with academic curriculum. As part of that program, the girls actually get to be in a National Ballet performance. Mia is thrilled at the prospect of being in the real Nutcracker.”

Unlike many young ballerinas, Mia does not come from a dancing family. Her mother is in a wheelchair. Her father, Blazenko, works for Orlick Industries in Hamilton. Christine says he is “clueless when it comes to ballet.”

“We’ve been thrust into this sea of ballet and have no idea what it’s all about. But we are swimming through it as a family,” said Christine. 

Mia dances six days a week. What she loves most about ballet, Mia will tell you, is the gracefulness — and her new pointe shoes. 

“She adores it. She takes pictures of herself and she dances all over the house in her pointe shoes,” said Christine.

Despite her love for dance, education comes first.

“We told her if her grades were to fall, we would have to cut back on dancing,” said Christine. “For us as parents, education is still number one. But didn’t she go and make us proud yet again. We got her report card last week and it was straight As. As parents, we’re over the moon. If there is one thing I did right in my life, it’s her. Being in a chair, I experienced so many obstacles so being able to watch her dance is incredible. She loves it and she is thriving.”

Mia’s parents are not the only ones who are proud. She has received congratulations from the Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board and recognition in local newspapers.

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