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A year after first ballet lesson, Aura takes on the world

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In balance: dancer Aura Doran will compete at the Global Dance Open in Spain this summer (Photograph supplied)

Aura Doran is off to Spain this summer for an international competition that will pit her against hundreds of dancers.

What’s particularly amazing is that she qualified despite being a relative newcomer to ballet. Until last year she was focused on the aerial classes she took at Padma, Sophia Cannonier’s dance and fitness studio in Devonshire.

“I think Ariel helped me a lot with ballet because you require a lot of strength to do aerial and obviously it’s a form of movement and dance so it really helped me with ballet. I think without it I wouldn't have been able to get where I am right now,” said the 14-year-old, who had to audition for the Global Dance Open to qualify.

“I was kind of shocked [when I was selected] because I'd only been doing it for a year. I was just doing it to see what happened; I wasn't expecting anything out of it really.”

Although she had taken a few classes when she was five, ballet didn’t stick until she was inspired to try again by Ms Cannonier.

“Funnily enough, my aerial teacher, who teaches me aerial art, is also a ballet teacher. I’d always admired ballet because I thought it was a really beautiful sort of art and so I thought, ‘Why don't I start doing ballet?’”

Only a short time into her lessons she realised she’d found her niche.

“I knew I wanted to be able to do this for the rest of my life,” said Aura. “It's because of my teacher. She’s a really amazing teacher and she put a lot of time into me. And she introduced me to her teacher, Patricia Deane-Gray. I think without them, I would not be where I am right now.”

At the Bermuda National Trust Christmas Walkabout she danced for the first time in public, not knowing that the piece would land her a place in the finals of a competition in Spain.

In balance: dancer Aura Doran will compete at the Global Dance Open in Spain this summer (Photograph by Rogan Cabral)

“There was an article in The Royal Gazette and my mom saw it and forwarded it on to my ballet teacher and we spoke about it and we decided I'd enter because, why not give it a shot and see what happens?”

In July, Aura will travel to Avila, a city about 100 miles northwest of Madrid, for GDO. The competition, which is in its third year, was started by Vanessa Thomas, a Bermudian dance teacher who now lives in Europe.

About 7,500 dancers were expected to apply for the competition. Aura is among an anticipated 1,250 accepted into the finals who will perform live, before an international panel of judges; another 250 will perform virtually. Last year GDO awarded $300,000 in dance intensives, university scholarships and cash prizes.

“I'm going to be travelling with my teacher and my mom, [Tamsyn],” Aura said. “We're going to do the competition and then there's also a bunch of master classes to choose from and scholarships which will be awarded at a gala.”

Dancer Aura Doran will compete at the Global Dance Open in Spain this summer (Photograph supplied)

As dancers from 37 countries have been accepted, competition will likely be tough. The teenager began practising as soon as she received the news that she could attend.

“After you submit your piece the judges rank you [according to] bronze, silver and gold and give you feedback to improve on it so that when the actual competition comes – the big finals – you're prepared,” she said. “I was lucky enough to qualify for the finals. They look to see how you take their feedback and see how well you apply it; you obviously have a bit of an advantage because you have their feedback.

“So basically you just prepare by refining your technique and incorporating their feedback, really going over it as much as possible, and working on everything that they asked you to work on. There will be a lot of different types of dance and not just ballet – there's jazz, contemporary, modern …”

Aura will perform two pieces: a contemporary solo and a ballet solo. Although she expects to be nervous, it isn’t likely to be a problem.

“Everyone’s nervous at some point, whether they say they're nervous or not,” she said. “I am excited until I get up on stage but when the music starts and I get into the dance all the nervousness melts away.”

She hopes the showcase will further her goal of joining a professional dance company some day. She is encouraged by siblings Ravi and Vidya Cannonier-Watson, who are both on their way to ballet careers.

“They’re my dance teacher’s children and it is quite inspiring to see how far they’ve come,” she said.

“I want to become a professional dancer. And then when I retire from that I want to become a dance teacher. At the moment I'm just hoping I am lucky enough one day to get into a ballet academy. I'm just really grateful for my teacher and my parents who have supported me, which has allowed me to get this far.”

For more information visit www.padmabermuda.com; www.globaldanceopen.com

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Published March 09, 2023 at 7:57 am (Updated March 10, 2023 at 8:09 am)

A year after first ballet lesson, Aura takes on the world

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