As she prepares for a national competition that occurs in Kansas City later this week, a Jefferson City girl performed Monday for residents at Heisinger Bluffs retirement community.
Sophia Schepers said her long-term goal and dream is to be a professional ballet dancer. The 16-year-old practices about 30 hours per week.
However, for now, the girl who is to participate in the Youth America Grand Prix Kansas City, which begins Thursday, is happy to share some of her practice time performing for residents at the retirement community. It's something she did three years ago, and she thought a return performance was well overdo.
Schepers performed two contemporary dance pieces and one traditional ballet "pointe" piece. "Pointe" work is that in which a ballet dancer supports all their body weight on the tips of fully extended feet.
"The pointe piece is 'Lilac Fairy, a Variation,' from 'Sleeping Beauty,'" Schepers said. "One of the contemporary pieces is (choreographed) by Meredith Green Soares."
During a break taken for Schepers to change, Marielle Lewis, and Schepers's younger sister, Gloria, who are both 9, performed a contemporary piece called "Light in the Hallway," which was
choreographed by Amanda Buchana. The two children have been performing since they were 2.
All the girls performed in "The Nutcracker" this winter.
Sophia, who had three roles during last year's Dancers' Alley performance of "The Nutcracker," said her short-term goal is to attend Next Generation Ballet, an intensive five-week summer program in Florida.
That will happen this summer, Sophia's mother, Ashley Schepers said.
Ashley said raising a ballet dancer can be expensive. She told the residents in the home — while Sophia was taking a break to change outfits — that a pair of pointe shoes, with ribbons, may cost $90. And, Sophia practices about 30 hours per week. She goes through 20-30 pairs of shoes every year. During performances of "The Nutcracker," she went through three pairs.
This weekend's grand prix is a massive dance competition, in which competitors will be judged on categories like technique, performance and ability.
Youth America Grand Prix is the world's largest global network of dance. It fulfills its mission of dance education through scholarship auditions, master classes, alumni services, educational outreach activities, performances and films, according to its website.
It has served more than 100,000 dancers and — over the past 20 years — provided more than $4 million to the world's leading dance schools.