Abby Smyth is still spinning after pirouetting with the professionals in a world famous dance studio.
The Magheralin girl earned the chance to dance at Pineapple Dance Studios in London after being awarded a scholarship back in May.
It all began earlier this year when Abby entered the UK-wide competition, Destination Dance, with her fellow students at The Lynsey Allen School of Ballet.
“She went to Destination Dance in May with Lynsey Allen,” explained Miressa, Abby’s mom.
“Abby had done really well throughout the day - coming 1st in ballet and getting a gold medal in modern and lyrical.”
This was the first year that Lynsey Parks, principal of The Lynsey Allen School of Ballet, had entered students into Destination Dance. The School’s Elite team entered the competition, during which they were judged by a panel of renowned personalities: John Graham, dancer and choreographer to Beyoncé and Rihanna; West End performer, Simone Sautt; and American-born musical theatre star, Katie Cameron.
“At the end of the day came the ‘Knock-out’ stage, where seventy dancers competed to win a scholarship for Pineapple Dance Studios. The group was narrowed down to the final ten, and Abby was called out as the winner of the week-long scholarship!”
Four scholarship prizes were on offer at the contest and, remarkably, three of the four scholarships were won by Lynsey’s students. With a variety of scholarships on offer - including one day passes to the Pineapple Dance Studios - Abby was the only student to secure the week-long prize.
The twelve-year-old flew to London last month with her mum, Miressa, and dad, Glenn, to meet, greet and learn from the professionals - and they certainly put her through her paces.
“She was at the Studios from 10:30am to 4:30pm every day,” shared Miressa. “Four different dancers took the students at different stages each day so that, by the end of the week, they had learnt four different dances!”
Abby was joined by other dancers her age, who came from all over the world - demonstrating just how special an opportunity this was.
“There were dancers from India, Hong Kong - everywhere!” said Miressa.
“I think their parents had paid for them to travel to London to be taught by these professionals.
“One of Abby’s teachers was Nicky Griffiths, who starred in the original London cast of ‘Wicked’ and is currently starring in ‘Jersey Boys’ - which Abby got tickets for, as part of the scholarship! Ryan Jenkins - who has taught on the US TV show, ‘Dance Moms’ - taught her, too.”
Abby is no stranger to dancing alongside top standard performers, as she starred in the English Youth Ballet’s production of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ last year.
After three hundred young hopefuls auditioned for the chance to star in the ballet, Abby was chosen to join the cast of just seventy.
“She has attended The Lynsey Allen School of Ballet since she was four years old and definitely plans to keep going!” explained Miressa.
Despite sharing the stage - and London Studio - with the stars, Abby is not easily daunted and ‘loved every minute’ of her experience in London.
“It was the best thing ever,” she shared.
Judging by her collection of dancing achievements so far, it seems this twelve-year-old is just getting started.
For more information on The Lynsey Allen School of Ballet, visit www.thelynseyallenschoolofballet.co.uk