by lisa perkins
TRAVERSE CITY — Dancing on a New York City stage is Kaity Gardiner's dream. That dream may be coming true sooner than she expected.
The Traverse City Central High School senior heads to New York City next month, thanks to a scholarship to the prestigious Joffrey Ballet School.
Gardiner, 17, was one of a handful of ballet students nationwide invited to audition for the Joffrey Ballet School Trainee Program's "Talented Dozen," a program designed to help students through classical ballet training with exposure to different contemporary ballet and dance techniques.
"This is something that I really want to do and I am just so excited that they asked me to audition," said Gardiner, who hopes that after the six-month program she will be asked to stay on and study at the school.
Gardiner and her mother, Wendy Judson, filmed an audition two weeks ago, demonstrating 14 years of intense training in a 10-minute video. The pair needed to showcase Gardiner's talent and potential for a ballet career.
Within an hour of the video's receipt in Joffrey offices, she had been accepted into the program. A few days later, a generous scholarship package cemented the deal. Gardiner will complete her high school studies through the Traverse City Area Public Schools' online program.
Tom Morrell, owner of the Ballet Etc. Dance Institute in Traverse City, has been Gardiner's primary ballet and pointe teacher for 13 years.
"Kaity was born with an incredible facility for dance, beautiful feet, outstanding turn-out and is extremely flexible," Morrell said.
Gardiner has also studied at a number of summer intensives over the past six years.