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Oak Bay teen ballerina en pointe for dance career

16-year-old finishes high school early to pursue ballet in post-secondary studies
Oak Bay High grad Mackennzie Mount, 16, is poised to pursue a career in ballet, starting a three-year intensive training program this summer. (David Cooper/Victoria Academy of Ballet)

Ballerina Mackennzie Mount is perfectly poised to pursue a career in dance.

The Oak Bay teen has been dancing as long as she can remember – she’s told it was age 4 – and left home for studies the first time when she was 10. Time spent away over the years includes prestigious summer intensives with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the National Ballet. The highest point though, as far as she’s concerned, was when an adjudicator for the recent B.C. Performing Arts festival told her if she continued her dedicated training, he’d have a job waiting for her in Poland.

“This showed me that hard work pays off, and if you set your mind to something that anything is possible,” she said. “Ballet is a life lesson really. You learn so much about yourself and how you can grow as a person.”

Mount, 16 and a longtime student of the Victoria Academy of Ballet, won the senior division in classical ballet at the festival last month. She’d won intermediate category level two prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but her age this year saw her compete against dancers up to 20.

Mount is dedicated to achieving her goals of finishing high school early and pursuing her en pointe post-secondary studies starting this month – as a ballerina.

The Bridge, a ministry approved, three-year program that aptly bridges the gap between student and professional. It’s dancing like a full-time job, about 38 hours a week.

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“I wanted to spend my whole day dancing. I wanted to dedicate myself to something I love so I can pursue it for my life,” Mount said.

Her days include intense physical classes as well as ballet history and human anatomy – learning about how muscles work and how to best care for them.

She keenly credits her parents, Kenn and Janet Mount, for their support.

“It takes a team to raise a ballet dancer really,” Mackennzie insists.

But academy director Bleiddyn Bellis noted Mount has the ingredients needed; physical talent, artistry, drive and desire.

“She has the mental strength too, that’s a big thing. It’s a hard career to choose and you train for it from the time that you’re little. Often times you train for it longer than you get to work in that profession because the career isn’t long,” Bellis said. “Making it as a dancer is the same as getting into the NHL, it’s brutal.”

Mount admits there are ‘regular’ teen things she may have skipped while putting in the hard work, but the challenge was worth it, as she loves to dance. Starting her post-secondary training early means she can finish early.

“I’m going to spend the three years to really develop myself,” she said.

Then she’ll audition to find her place as a professional in Europe – perhaps Poland.

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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