Dancer poised to chase dream

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 12:00 29/11/2012
Mairi Robertson
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
WINNING ATTITUDE: Mairi Robertson, 17, is one of 15 dancers to be accepted into a prestigious ballet school in Melbourne, and one of 71 to be nominated for an international ballet competition next month.

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A couple of months ago Palmerston North dancer Mairi Robertson was losing sleep over her future; now she is getting geared up to attend a ballet school in Australia, and has been nominated for an international ballet competition to be held in Wellington next month.

Mairi said she felt relief when she found she was accepted into the National Theatre Ballet School in Melbourne.

The 17-year-old read about the school in a dance magazine, sent in her audition DVD, and two days later found out she had been accepted.

All of Mairi's friends had applied for university, and she had filled in her application to Otago University's health sciences programme, but when the time came she could not bring herself to send it.

"I couldn't live without a dance class."

Mairi said she planned to pursue a career in health sciences in the future, but while she was still young, and able, she wanted to give dancing a go.

She first considered taking her study of dance further when her dance teacher asked her why she was not applying for schools. That was the moment Mairi realised a career in dancing was realistic.

The Melbourne school accepted only 15 fulltime students for next year.

The young star, who also received top marks in all eight of her dancing exams this year, including two advanced ballet exams, has been nominated for the semifinals of the Genee International Ballet Competition.

Mairi will be competing against 71 top dancers from around the world next month.

It will be the first time the competition is held in New Zealand.

The awards include a week-long workshop for the competitors, before they face a panel of judges to perform a selection of ballet variations.

This year's panel includes Li Cunxin, author of the autobiographical book Mao's Last Dancer.

Mairi said she was looking forward to the opportunity to learn in a concentrated environment.

"It's really different from anything I've done before," she said.

"I'm not really nervous. I don't feel like there's a lot of pressure ... I'm not expecting to get into the finals."

As well as attending Palmerston North Girls' High School as a year 13 pupil, she was at the dancing studio for about 20 hours a week.

The high school dance prefect was also a part of the Royal New Zealand Ballet's mentor programme during the past year.

It made the idea of a career in dance more realistic, she said.

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"It made the company members seem a bit more real.

"They weren't born company members."

Mairi took a range of classes, but said ballet was her favourite.

"It's the most rewarding when you get something right."

- The Manawatu Standard

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