Three young ballerinas from Marion County have a chance to take their dreams a step further when they compete in the International Ballet Competition Youth America Grand Prix Semi-Finals in Dallas this weekend.
Scarlett Smith, 10, Cooper Smith, 12, and Laura Wascomb, 15, are all members of South Mississippi Ballet Theatre in Oak Grove.
The Youth America Grand Prix Semi-Finals is held in more than 30 locations all over the world. More than 17 countries will have dancers participating in the various locations. Each of the dancers are vying for a spot in the finals in New York City.
The dancers are selected by their studio teachers; only the best of the best are chosen to attend, according to Virginia Smith, mother of Scarlett Smith. Each practices more than 15 hours a week.
Scarlett is the only 10-year-old from the studio competing. This is her second year attending; she was the only 9-year-old last year. Scarlett has bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and has to wear hearing aids, but it has not stopped her one bit when it comes to dancing.
While the awards are announced today, Virginia said it isn’t just about winning.
“Regardless in how they place, just earning a spot to be here is something that will look great on their dance resume,” she said.
For Cooper this will be her fourth trip to the semi-finals. She has been to New York twice for the finals. She won first place previously in the Pas de deux category at the semi-finals in 2018 and placed in the top 12 last year.
Her mother, Summer, said, “I am very proud of all of the girls. They have a grueling schedule, but they do it and keep their academics up.”
Their dance instructor, Katya Orohovsky, said the girls have been preparing since September. “I am very excited for all them: this is the largest ballet competition in the world,” she said.