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Acevedo dancing her way to the top


Doing what comes naturally for her, local dancer Ava Acevedo recently captured gold.
Dancing on behalf of Charise Beer Dance Studio, the young artist took gold for her modern dance solo at the Canadian National Dance Championships (CNDC) in Winnipeg, Apr. 28.
She also received awards for her dances from Steppin’ Time of Brandon with Tamara Hicks, by tying for first place for her pointe solo, second place for her demi-character duet and third place for her jazz duet.
The 13-year-old began dance classes when she was four years old, though her mother, Therese Shamray said, her daughter wanted to start much earlier.
“Even as a baby and toddler she was always bouncing and moving. I think dancing is in her blood,” Shamray said, noting Ava’s maternal grandparents loved to old time dance and Ava learned the heel toe dance at age three.
Back then, Shamray said, her daughter loved watching ballroom dancing on television and would try to do the dance steps.
Before Acevedo began classes, mother and daughter would watch different types of dance and Ava picked ballet on her own.
“It probably remains her favourite today, though she also loves pointe, interpretive and modern,” Shamray said, adding her daughter studies ballet, pointe, modern, tap, jazz, lyrical and does some stage dance.
“I enjoy the musical part of dancing. (It’s) fairly easy for me to listen to the music, dance to the music and count the music. The technical side is mastering the jumps. It’s a strong feeling of success,” Acevedo said.
Her first dance instructor was Charise Beer in Dauphin.
“I started teaching Ava when she was four years old. She studied ballet, tap, jazz and modern dance at my studio up until she moved to Brandon to pursue her dance studies,” Beer explained, noting Acevedo understands how difficult it is to train as a dancer and commits fully to her passion.
Through Acevedo has relocated to Brandon, Beer continues to work with her, choreographing modern dance solos for her.
Shamray attributes much of Acevedo’s progress and success to the foundation she received from Beer.
“I don’t think Dauphin realizes how lucky they are to have such a talented individual in the community,” she added.
When Acevedo danced at the Shelley Shearer summer intensive in 2014, Shamray said, she and Ava’s father Greg Acevedo realized how talented their daughter is.
Shearer, a former professional dancer with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and her daughter, Lindsay Nelko, a choreographer known for her work on the American television show, ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ agreed Acevedo had tremendous potential and suggested she study dance more intensively.
Nelko selected Acevedo from over 600 dancers auditioning, to participate in a dance for the nationally-televised opening ceremonies of the Canadian Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg.
For Acevedo to study more intensively, Shamray said, she had to take more classes.
She was already taking as many as she could in Dauphin, she said, with ballet, jazz, tap and modern two nights a week plus a private lesson another night. But the family soon began driving to Brandon every weekend.
It was difficult, particularily in the winter, Shamray said, but she found a teaching position in Brandon and Acevedo adjusted to living in a new community, though their permanent residence is still in Dauphin.
She began dancing at Dance Images with Linda Kearns in 2015 and takes ballet and pointe, along with interpretive and demi-character dances with Tamara Hicks at Dance Images and Steppin’ Time.
Hicks was the adjudicator at Dauphin Arts Fest this year and has danced professionally with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
“I love working with Ava, as she has fantastic energy and passion. She is mature and acts much older than she is. I believe whatever she sets as a goal she will achieve,” Hicks said.
After completing Grade 7 in Brandon this year, Acevedo continues to dance and has been selected for the second time to attend Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS) professional division summer program.
One of the top schools to study ballet, NBS offers a four-week summer program.
“Its nice to be a returning summer student there. I will see some of my friends from last year and cannot wait to catch up. I was very close with them in that amount of time I spent with them.” Acevedo said.
While she has much potential as a dancer, at 13, Acevedo wants to explore many things.
“I’m not sure what I want to do later in life,” she said, advising other teens to enjoy the moment and work hard for what they want, not doubt themselves and keep going.
Uncertain if she wants a career in dancing, Acevedo feels privileged she has had the opportunity to study at a professional school.
“ I enjoy dancing as a self goal.” she added.

Staff Writer