Student vie for scholarships to Cincinnati Ballet

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email|Facebook

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - They are preparing for a big dance unveiling this spring on Fountain Square. They are young students who spent the last six weeks training and praying for free scholarships to the Cincinnati Ballet.

It's all part of Cincinnati Bell and the Ballet's "Cincy Dance" program, bringing free ballet lessons to five lucky schools.

For those kids, Monday was their day, performing in front of their parents on-stage at the Carnegie Theater in Covington. And hoping to get picked to go-on further and study with some big-time ballerinas.

"Ok, well let's get started, alright?" Cincinnati Ballet Instructor Renee McCafferty asked her bunch as they sat at the edge of the stage. "Here we go!"

"Point your foot, to the back," she directed her young students.

For McCafferty, the last six weeks have been spent putting the kids through rigorous and complicated ballet moves.

"Nice and tall," she commanded, referring to posture and leg positioning. "Let's do four to the front."

"This is the best job I have," McCafferty said. "This has been like Christmas. I feel like Santa Claus. I feel like I get to go out and do this really fun work and then at the end of it, they get a big present some of them and they and if they take advantage of that present it's huge."

It's a big break for any aspiring dancer.

"To the side," she said. "Side, point your foot, good, passe, to the back."

And thanks to Cincinnati Bell.

"They're graciously funding our work," she said.

Five schools got hand-picked from a Facebook campaign.

"So, at the end of our six weeks of working with these children," McCafferty said. "They have the opportunity to study at Cincinnati Ballet for the rest of their young lives."

They're not looking for the next Baryshnikov just yet, but for the desire to dance.

"Not just their physical talent but their passion and their discipline and how busy their lives are going to get and how much time they want to devote to doing something like this because it's not part time," said McCafferty.

It's learning to communicate through motion and not words.

"Low first, high first, fifth and second," McCafferty said, running the young women through a series of ballet positions.

The works instills confidence and encouragement in them.

"Beautiful!" McCafferty said. "Can I see our second position in ballet? Wide and strong, good!"

She directs them with a smile, empowering these young ladies with a physical can-do attitude.

"Ballet works in a position that's not very natural for us," McCafferty said. "We don't walk around the earth in this rotated-out position, so that's something that has to be taught."

And practiced.

"And over one, stay, breathe and relax," she said, guiding them through a series of stretches.

Sometimes the girls are pushed.

"And a little further in your stretch," McCafferty said helping one student elongate her body to get closer to the floor.

But for the dancer, to dance is a love that can last a lifetime.

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