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Aura grabbed an opportunity and everything fell into place

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High performance: Aura Doran, 14, at the Global Dance Open in Spain (Photograph courtesy of the GDO)

Last week, as her former classmates at Somersfield Academy returned to school, Aura Doran was busy packing.

With a year of ballet lessons under her belt and the encouragement of her teacher, Sophia Cannonier, she braved a dance competition in Spain in July.

The 14-year-old did not place, however her talent captured the interest of a boutique dance company in Canada.

At the invitation of Ida Zucchet, the artistic director and chief executive officer of International Dance Academy, Aura left Spain for Ontario where she had two weeks of intensive classes, all expenses paid.

Incredible as that was, the teenager was shocked when she was invited to join the ballet company as a full-time student.

Within a matter of days she’d bought a plane ticket and enrolled at Silverthorn Collegiate, a high school just outside Mississauga.

“It was very last minute. We were really lucky that Silverthorn allowed us to put an application in place and that they got back to us within a few days with my acceptance,” she said.

“Silverthorn has a programme called the High Performer Programme which allows you to do half a day of academics and then the other half, you can leave and go to dance or hockey or whatever else you're trying to develop yourself in.”

The school does not board students. Aura, who has never lived away from home before, is to stay with Ms Zucchet’s “really sweet, welcoming and supportive” parents.

“I'm so excited for Aura,” said her mother, Tamsyn Doran. “We were just going [to Spain] for an opportunity, an experience. It was very eye-opening.

“There were so many incredible dancers from all over the world. They did an amazing job putting it on.

“I definitely didn't expect we were going to get approached and then invited with a two-week all-expenses-paid intensive.

“Even then I sort of thought, well that's another awesome opportunity for Aura. But I didn't necessarily think anything was going to come out of it this year.

“I thought it might be a connection for her and maybe in the future they would offer her placement. So we were pretty blown away when the offer came through.”

Although “torn” about her daughter leaving home, Ms Doran and her husband agreed it was “an incredible opportunity” that shouldn’t be wasted.

“[IDA is] very small and they focus on quality as opposed to quantity. They have a very small number of students that they work with and they operate just like a lovely family.

“They're all very close-knit and they clearly all look after each other and support each other. It just seemed like it was a great fit for her coming from Bermuda.”

Not even a week in, Aura’s departure will likely “take some adjustment”, she said.

“I'm probably still in a little bit of a state of shock because [once the offer was made] we then went into sort of, ‘OK, what do we have to do to make this happen?’.

“And with the support of the director and some of the other people in Toronto that we've met and gotten to know, everybody's just kind of banded together to make it work.”

Off to Canada: Aura Doran, 14, at the Global Dance Open in Spain (Photograph supplied)

Having family and friends in Canada that Aura can call on if necessary is reassuring, however Ms Doran is certain that her daughter will be well taken care of by the family she is living with.

“They just seem lovely. My husband has met them and they just seemed like really genuinely lovely people. I think it's all sort of fitting nicely into place.

“I'm a big believer sometimes that if these things are meant to be everything will fit into place and so far it seems to be very easy.”

Both Aura and her mother believe much of the credit for her success should go to Ms Cannonier, who encouraged her to try out for the Global Dance Open in Avila, a city about 100 miles northwest of Madrid.

“I spoke with her this morning and she told me that she's proud of me and really happy for me,” Aura said.

Added Ms Doran: “Definitely the support of Sophia has been priceless. She really prepared Aura.

“I was a bit worried that we would go to Spain and she would say that she wasn’t sure if this is what she wanted to do, but instead she said it's actually inspired her, it's pushed her to want to go further. And that's invaluable to know that at 14, to know that there is something that you really want to do.”

Seizing the opportunity: Aura Doran, 14, at the Global Dance Open in Spain (Photograph courtesy of the GDO)

It’s a feat that GDO founder Vanessa Thomas, a Bermudian who lives in Europe, hopes other dance students here can replicate.

“I think she's trying to foster more interest from Bermuda in the Global Dance Open,” Ms Doran said. “She made a point of saying that Gibraltar, which has about 30,000 people, ended up placing really, really well; they walked away with quite a number of prizes.”

With twice the population size, Bermuda could do just as well, she added.

“I think her hope is that if people hear Aura’s story, more people will get interested, which she wants because she considers Bermuda her home. So she's hopeful that maybe more people will come. It's a lovely opportunity.”

• For more information visit interdanceacademy.com/

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Published September 14, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated September 15, 2023 at 8:04 am)

Aura grabbed an opportunity and everything fell into place

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