SHE attends five ballet classes a week, an all-day rehearsal on Saturdays, and practices dancing at home in whatever spare time she has, but Northside girl Kate Finn doesn’t mind the long hours.
The teenager from Finglas has wanted to become a ballet dancer ever since the age of four, and her dedication is starting to pay off.
A member of the Irish National Youth Ballet, Kate will be dancing in the Nutcracker Suite and the Snow Queen at what’s expected to be sell-out performances in Dublin and Dun Laoghaire in December.
Speaking to Northside People, 16-year-old Kate says she can’t wait for the curtain to go up.
“I always get really excited ahead of each performance, but I never really get nervous. Ballet is my life, it’s where my heart is, it makes me relaxed and happy. It takes me away!”
It hasn’t always been easy to pursue her passion however, and Kate went through a few years of being bullied over what was seen as an ‘unusual’ pastime by her classmates growing up in Finglas.
“When I started secondary school I got a bit of a hard time. People were slagging and calling me names, things like ‘Who do you think you are doing ballet?’ They just didn’t understand what it was.
“For the first few years I felt isolated, but then when I danced at the school talent show, and they saw the shoes and the tutu, they started to get really interested. Now everything is different, I’m getting more support.”
And although she dances six days a week, with extra rehearsals coming up to performances, Kate says she still has time to lead a normal teenager’s life.
“I still have time to hang out with my friends, once a week anyway! I’m sitting my Leaving Cert this year, and next year I hope to study at the College of Dance in Monkstown.”
Kate is also keen to dismiss the “crazy ballerina” image portrayed in last year’s hit film Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman.
“I thought the film was really good, but ballet isn’t really like that, we’re not all mad! I suppose there is a bit of rivalry and competition for parts in shows, but it’s very friendly, and the atmosphere is always supportive.”
But she said Black Swan did give an accurate depiction of the amount of hard work involved in becoming a ballerina.
“The work is just like it is in Black Swan. Rehearsal time is long, and you have to warm up properly or you can get muscle injuries. In the Nutcracker Suite and the Snow Queen, I’ll be doing all point work, when you’re up on your tip toes all the time. I started point work when I was 11, and it was very difficult at the start, but as the years progress it becomes easier.”
One key support for Kate is the Artistic Director of the Irish National Youth Ballet, Katherine Lewis. A fellow Northsider originally from Cabra, Katherine was the first Irish person to attend the prestigious Royal Ballet School in London, and Kate would love to follow in her footsteps.
“Katherine is a fantastic teacher and so supportive of us all. I’d like to do further study of dance at Bird College in London maybe and then eventually become a ballet teacher, but first I’d like to make a career out of ballet myself!”
In the meantime, it’s practice, practice, pirouette and plié as Kate and the other ballerinas in the Irish National Youth Ballet Company prepare for their upcoming shows.
The Nutcracker Suite and the Snow Queen will be performed in the O’Reilly Theatre in Belvedere College on December 2 /3 and in the Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire on December 9/10.
Katie explained the roles she will play in each performance.
“In the Nutcracker Suite, I’m in the snowflake scene, the Dance of the Reed Pipes and the Waltz of the Flowers. In the Snow Queen, I’m an icicle, a tear drop and a villager.
“It all makes sense when you see it performed!”More Information - http://www.inybco.com/index.html