Art Beat: Local dance student getting recognized for her ability

Published: Feb. 15, 2018 at 3:16 PM MST
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When it comes to dance forms it doesn't get much harder than ballet ... where getting to the top means years of discipline and hard work.

In this week's Art Beat we introduce you to Hannah Riley, a local 11 year old dancer who makes the difficult look simply effortless.

Hannah Riley started taking dance lessons at 5 in her hometown of Newcastle, Wyoming.

After just a couple of years her teacher told her mother that she needed to transfer to another studio that could offer her more instruction.

After consideration Hannah's family took the next step.

Hannah is home schooled.

Her Mother teaches her in the morning and they drive to Rapid City in the afternoon while Hannah does homework in the car.

They take this 3 hour round trip five days a week. She takes private ballet lessons and adds jazz, contemporary and modern classes throughout the week, but it's ballet taking the lead with this young dancer.

Hannah Riley, 11, dancer, says "I love how technical you have to be and you can't ever be perfect in it. You just always have to keep working at it."

Hannah learns quickly and routinely asks her teachers for more.

Julie says "She's a student who came to me and immediately started asking for more. She was asking for homework, she was asking for history, she was asking for ballet terms. She just wanted to learn the total package. Right now she's taking Russian lessons because she wants to be able to utilize when she trains in Connecticut with the Bolshoi this summer. "

And the Russian lessons are all part of preparing for her third summer course at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive Program in Connecticut.

For the last two years she took part in the three week program but this year she has been invited for 6 weeks.

Hannah says "it's really fun and everyone was nice and you knew that you knew were meant to be there because everyone wants to be there and it wasn't just like you were the only one that wanted to dance. Everyone wanted to. Amazing teachers and they really understood what you wanted to do. "

Hannah's family and teachers support her with every step of her journey.

This fall Julie felt she was ready for regional competition after expanding her repertoire so quickly. Dancers typically prep for more than a year before this type of competition, but Hannah only had three months.

In January she competed in the Youth American Grand Prix in Denver.

She placed in the top 12.

Hannah says " I wasn't expecting to make it that far ."

Julie says "She choreographed her own contemporary entry. Put that in and we rehearsed her for about a three month period. The more auditioning she can do the more professional environment she can be in and the more opportunities we can provide for her, that's what we're trying to do."

And so until she heads east this summer for six weeks of rigorous ballet training conducted in Russian.

Hannah will spends her afternoons here, continuing to improve her craft.

Julie says "Her level of dedication actually matches the level of skill and talent that she has and as much as we can give her she is taking in assimilating in her body and growing and learning with that. Right now we will be able to take her to a certain level locally. Ultimately she will need to be a company training school or a boarding school environment for more hours if that's really what she wants to do to dance professionally with a ballet company."

Hannah says "To go to a big time school and hopefully get noticed."

This talented ballerina travels to the Bolshoi Academy at the end of June and then we'll all have to watch and see how far she will soar.

Students who show exceptional talent at the Bolshoi Academy in Connecticut may be recommended for year round study at their academy in Moscow.

So that may be a step one day for Hannah.