CHESTERTON | Every four years, ballet dancers from around the world chase across a stage in Jackson, Miss., for the USA International Ballet Competition.
This year, Kennedy Brown, 15, of Chesterton, will test her skills June 14-29 in Jackson, Miss.
The USA IBC began in 1979 in Jackson and has welcomed professional and amateur dancers to the stage every four years since. The two-week event has been called the Olympics of the ballet world and often results in professional contracts for winners.
To compete, dancers must have won gold medals in select other international competitions, the Youth America Grand Prix or be selected after a video submission. Brown was selected from a video.
"I didn't think I was going to make it into the US IBC because it was the very last minute," she said. "My teacher said, 'Let's do some variations for a video,' but I didn't have anything prepared."
Brown began studying ballet when she was 7 at Eclipse Performing Arts, a studio owned by her mother, Michele' Brown.
"From the first time I saw her when she was 7, I knew she had so much potential in ballet," said Tara Drew, Brown's first ballet instructor.
Drew was a USA IBC semifinalist and began talking to Brown about competing in the event several years ago.
The USA IBC is not the first major ballet event in which Brown has competed. She recently earned a bronze medal in the Youth American Grand Prix in New York City.
In December 2013, Brown left Chesterton for Scottsdale, Ariz., to train at Master Ballet Academy under Slawomir Wozniak. She currently practices eight hours a day under Wozniak.
"At the level she's training at, she needs to be dancing every day," Michele' Brown said.
Despite the long days, Kennedy Brown isn't convinced her pirouettes and grand jetes will bring home USA IBC gold.
"I'm just not as experienced as those other dancers that have been accepted," she said.
She confessed, though, that she's probably more nervous than unprepared.
Although she has focused on ballet, Kennedy Brown also studies jazz and contemporary dance. She has a hard time choosing a favorite style.
"I love them all," Kennedy Brown said.
After the USA IBC, she will travel to New York City and Los Angeles for intensive contemporary dance programs. She hopes to be a professional ballet or contemporary dancer.
"Right now, she's kind of torn between two different worlds," Michele' Brown said.
The only thing Kennedy Brown knows for sure is, she wants a career in a dance studio.