Huntsville’s Mckendra Hawley is taking a big step towards fulfilling her dancing dreams.
In early September, the 14-year-old Hawley moved away from her family and friends to attend the Quinte Ballet School of Canada.
It is quite a leap for any young person, but the aspiring dancer is sure it will be a great experience and beneficial to her long term development as she strives to reach her goals.
And it wasn’t easy getting into the illustrious program. Hawley first had to audition for a summer intensive program at the Quite school, for which she was accepted.
Then during the summer program, Hawley was selected to be a fulltime student this year at the school. She will be attending the Quinte Ballet School of Canada for each of her high school years from Grade 9 through 12.
“In May I auditioned for the summer dance intensive professional program and I felt at home, there were 2 girls in grade 10 and then one girl and one boy who were my age,” says Hawley. “I loved the audition, it was so fun, and I just don’t know how to explain how my heart skipped while dancing with all of these people with the same dream as me … it was absolutely amazing no questions asked. And when I found out I was accepted I was screaming with joy.”
Hawley says she learned a lot during the summer program and fell in love with the Quinte school. She had tears of joy flowing when learning about her acceptance into the fulltime school program.
She mentions being nervous about the tuition expenses. However, those nerves were alleviated after a Go Fund Me campaign started by Hawley’s mom Carrissa Winger raised some of the monies needed to go along with Hawley’s savings from working in the summer and her grandparents also pitching-in.
“I’m very, very grateful,” says Hawley of all the support. “My family is really supportive and I’m very thankful for that, they are all really proud of me and they understand how hard I’ve worked for this so that’s why they wanted me to go so bad, and yeah my family is just really supportive about this.”
Those wanting to support Hawley while she attends the Quinte Ballet School of Canada can check out https://www.gofundme.com/25272d3w
Heading away to school is another step in Hawley’s dancing career, which began at the age of two. Hawley danced at the Huntsville School of Ballet for ten years, which included instructors Brenda Cunningham, Kasey Stephan and Pam Martin.
When the school closed down in 2015, Hawley joined The Dance Project, which was founded by Stephan.
Hawley says the thing she loves most about dancing is that the art form will always be there for her. No matter what else happens, she knows she will be able to dance her heart out.
“I just feel so connected to the music,” says Hawley. “It’s hard to explain, but the way the stage lights hit my face is just an incredible feeling and it has definitely made me into the person I am today, and without it I wouldn’t be me.”
As for her future as a dancer, Hawley is quite altruistic in her goals. Although most young dancer want to become professionals, Hawley also would like to share her passion with others.
“I really want to make a change but still do what I love so my plans are to open a professional ballet school for kids with financial issues,” says Hawley. “ just feel like your dreams are something you need to enjoy the process of accomplishing and not have to stress about money especially at such young ages and I just hope that I can succeed and be able to share my love of dance with more kids.”
Photographs courtesy of Carrissa Winger.