Local ballet student has chance at international title

Local ballet student has chance at international title

A local ballet student is preparing for the chance of a lifetime, as she will soon compete in front of some of the world’s most esteemed dance instructors.

Clara Vazanko won the regional division of the Youth America Grand Prix and will now be heading to compete in the finals, which are held in New York City. 1,200 dancers from all around the world will be competing in the Big Apple.

The 15-year-old dancer has been practicing ballet since she was 4 years old.

“She was a precocious little one who insisted on keeping up with all the big kids,” said dance instructor Jonna Maule with the Company Ballet School in Spokane Valley.

Maule has trained Vazanko since she joined the Company Ballet. She has watched Vazanko grow into one of the strongest dancers at the academy.

“We’re a small school, but we have heart. Everybody takes care of each other and I think that makes a big difference in how we progress,” Maule said.

With such a small school the dancers become like family. The bond between Maule and Vazanko is a strong one after so many years together.

“She’s become like another mom to me. Now we have that relationship… I feel like we’ve always had that relationship, where I can go to her for anything,” said Vazanko.

It’s that bond that has helped Vazanko in competitions like the Youth America Grand Prix. Just two weekends ago, Vazanko danced in the regional semi-finals in Seattle. She was one of the youngest in the 15 to 19 age group and had no expectations of placing. Then she heard she had made the top 24 dancers. Then her name was announced in the top 12.

“Just a lot was going through my mind. All good things. Just like, OK, that’s me just go up, just follow everyone else, because I was really, just excited,” she said.

Vazanko ended up winning the competition, securing her spot in the finals in NYC.

“I still don’t believe it. Like, it’s just weird to think, even after winning first place,” Vazanko said.

At the finals, Vazanko will have the opportunity to compete for a scholarship to some of the world’s most prestigious dance academies. The Youth America Grand Prix finals will take place at the Lincoln Center in New York City April 12-20.