Young ballet acrobat has circus dreams

BARRY’S BAY – It’s not every day that a girl tells her mother that she wants to run away and join the circus, but for Amy Smerek, that may be a reality that is very much on the near horizon.

Having grown up while taking ballet lessons, the 10-year-old Smerek has made massive strides in the world of ballet, and more specifically, in the world of acrobatic dance.
While staying with her grandmother, Pat Kosnaskie, on Mask Island Road, and enjoying some summer vacation, The Valley Gazette caught up with the flexible phenom for an exclusive interview.
Living near Sandy Hill in downtown Ottawa, Amy and her mother Alison discussed how lucky they are to be able to spend time in the Barry’s Bay area.
“We come here for our holidays. People pay money to come up here, but we just come up here and visit my mom. It’s such a beautiful spot,” Alison noted.
During the interview, young Amy jumped around on a trampoline and practiced certain moves and routines that are associated with acrobatic dance.
The young dancer has dreams of joining the Cirque du Soleil.
“She does acrobatic dance. She’s hoping to get into Cirque du Soleil. That’s the ultimate goal,” Alison added.
Amy dived into the world of ballet and dance at a very young age.
“I started doing dance when I was three but I started acrobatics when I was nine,” Amy said.
Attending a specialized dance school in Ottawa called KaliAndrews Dance Company, Amy has learned specialized acrobatic dance techniques from world class instructors.
Alison has seen her daughter progress, by leaps and bounds, over a short period of time.
“She did five years of just ballet so the acrobatic side of things is new, but she just tried out for the competitive team and got accepted,” Alison said.
Noting the rigorous schedule of the dance school, Amy added that a new element of scheduling would be added by joining the traveling team.
“I would be going to competitions around Ontario. Right now, it’s summer vacation so we don’t do any dance stuff, but the competitive stuff starts Labour Day weekend,” Amy noted.
By joining the team, Amy would be consenting to travel all over the province for the entire year, ending with her involvement at a national competition in July of 2013.
With years of ballet training under her belt, Amy has learned that her continued involvement with ballet helps to keep her body physically fit and well-tuned for the intense movements of acrobatics.
“I started with ballet when I was really young, and what I like about it is that it builds up your body to do better things. When I started acro, I wanted to stop ballet but I realized that ballet would help build me up,” Amy added.
Having watched the Cirque du Soleil as child, Amy was spellbound and knew that she wanted to perform aerial acrobatics and acrobatic dance.
“I’ve seen two shows and I just know that I want to do that. I like the hoops and the contortion part of it,” Amy said.
As it stands, Amy’s weekly schedule is mostly eaten up and her mother has been by her side through all of the demands of the training.
“She has training all day and then every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday evenings and a big chunk of Saturday,” Alison added.
Referencing an upcoming opportunity for Amy to join the National Circus School in Montreal, Alison is excited for her daughter.
Story continues in the September 5, 2012 issue of The Valley Gazette.