Kiana Serr’s passion is dance, but she hopes her life will one day revolve around medicine.
In the very near future, however, her skills as a dancer have landed Serr an opportunity of a lifetime.
The 16-year-old has been selected to the Canadian team competing at the world dance championships in Frankfurt, Germany from Oct. 3 to 7.
Leading Canada into the competition re choreographers Danielle Gardner (So You Think You Can Dance Canada) and Josh Beamish (MOVE the Company).
Based on this upcoming experience, you’d expect Serr to choose dancing as her occupation of choice after she graduates from Maple Ridge Secondary School.
But she has other plans.
Inspired by her mom Kirsten, a science and math teacher, Serr has designs on veering in a far different vocational direction.
While dancing is a big part of her life, Serr realizes she’ll probably have to leave it behind in her pursuit of a career in the medical field.
Serr is already marching down that path – she is a “volunteen” at Ridge Meadows Hospital and is currently assigned to Baillie House to support resident seniors.
Even as a little one, Serr didn’t dream of becoming a professional dancer. Then, like now, she simply liked being on stage.
“I’ve always loved dance, but I’ve just never seen it as a viable career option,” Serr said. “I can still, while I’m in university, audition for other things. If I want to, there are options, but for me, my life choice is to go into medicine.”
I think it will be sad to leave it behind but I think I’ll also understand that this is the choice I made with my life.”
The French Immersion student is a top-hat honour roll student, meaning she’s achieved almost all As in her classes.
She’s entering Grade 11 at MRSS in the fall.
Serr is also an accomplished pupil of dance, having recently completed the Advanced 1 curriculum, the equivalent to a Grade 12 dance credit.
She says, dance, homework, and volunteering chews up most of her free time.
“I’ll dedicate my entire weekend to homework,” Serr said. “Some of my teachers are pretty flexible with me, where if I have to, I can spend my weekend doing homework because I do dance a lot during the week.”
Serr isn’t complaining. Her social life revolves around her chosen pastime.
“I spend time with my friends at school and I spend time with my dance friends at the studio and if I have left-over time, it might be a Friday afternoon,” she said.
This dedication to her craft paid off with Serr’s selection to the world competition.
Run by the International Dance Organization (IDO), the event is comparable to the Olympics of dance. Chosen studios were invited for closed auditions, run by Gardner.
From those auditions, Serr along with three fellow members of the Tri-City Dance Centre in Coquitlam were accepted to the Canadian senior team.
Led by director Shannon Stewardson, the Centre is the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) training facility in the Lower Mainland.
Judging the auditions were Gardner from and Toronto resident Bonnie Dyer, a member of the IDO. Dyer pored through video of the dancers audition before making her selections.
In Frankfurt, Serr will compete with teams in a trio of dance disciplines: ballet, modern, and jazz.
“I’m nervous as anyone would be because it is on the world stage, but I’m really excited. It will be a really cool experience,” Serr said.
It won’t take the Canadian team long to gel, in Serr’s opinion: “The dance community, once you hit my age, gets really small, so I don’t know everyone but I do know a good group of them.”
She added, “A lot of us know each so we’ve already danced together. Once you get into dance, it’s sort of a universal language. We all know each other and know what to do.”
Her favourite form is ballet, but Serr also enjoys modern (contemporary) and jazz.
“I can do all three,” she said. “I love all dance.”
Serr fell in love with ballet, initially; it’s the reason she started dancing.
As a toddler, Serr saw a ballet and told her mom, “That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to be a ballerina.”
“I just love being on stage and wearing the costumes, and being up on point,” Serr said.
Her mom added, “She loves the music, the elegance, and the grace. There’s an elegance that comes with ballet that I think speaks to Kiana. It’s who she is as a person.”
Close to a decade-and-a-half of ballet training has sculpted Serr’s body to suit that form of dance.
“I’ve trained for ballet my whole life so my body’s sort of shaped to what it needs to be,” said Serr, who is used to performing under pressure.
She has danced in performances of the Nutcracker, put on by Ballet BC and Alberta Ballet, at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver.
Looking ahead, mom and daughter wish musical theatre could have been incorporated into the world competition.
“The musical theatre at Kiana’s ballet studio is so entertaining,” Kirsten said.
During the Chilliwack Lions Music and Dance Festival this past February, Serr’s musical theatre team wowed audiences with their version of the cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show.
“The announcement was they were brought back because they were the most thoroughly and highly entertaining act of the entire festival,” Kirsten recalled.
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There are travel and other costs involved with traveling to Frankfurt and representing Canada. Kiana’s family is needing to gather sponsors to support her place on the team. To help sponsor her journey to Frankfurt, email email@example.com.