Mackenzie Hebein is Lisbon-bound to compete in the Royal Academy of Dance’s Genée International Ballet Competition. (James Smith photo)

Surrey dancer headed to Portugal for prestigious ballet competition

North Delta student will compete against 53 dancers from across the globe in first overseas trip

Mackenzie Hebein doesn’t have much free time these days. Every spare minute the 17-year-old Sands Secondary senior has she spends training for the prestigious Genée International Ballet Competition.

With just two weeks to go before she jets off to Lisbon, Portugal for the 10-day event, Hebein is trying to get as much practice in as she can.

“[I’m] basically living here,” she said, gesturing to the Surrey dance studio where she’s spent countless hours over the past decade. “During the summer we usually get a little bit of a break, but not too much because right now I’m doing like eight hours a day.

“It’s a really intense schedule. Like, usually five or six days a week I’ll be here.”

The Newton resident began dancing when she was three or four years old, taking lessons at a local rec centre. There she met Tyra Sergeant, owner and artistic director of Flora Pigeau Dance Academy, who invited the young ballerina to study at her studio.

Since then, Hebein has worked diligently to learn all she can, and she recently completed her Advanced 2 examination with the Royal Academy of Dance, earning distinction (the highest mark possible) for her impeccable performance.

That cleared the way for her to compete in this year’s Genée alongside 53 of the top young dancers in the world.

“It’s really exciting but it’s also nerve-wracking because it’ll be just such a new experience for me,” Hebein said. “I’ve never travelled across the sea, I’ve never been to Europe or anything, so it’s going to be pretty new for me.”

Although she’ll be travelling to Lisbon with her parents and twin sister Mallory (her 13-year-old brother Carter will be staying behind with family), Hebein won’t have much time to spend with them or to relish her first visit to one of the world’s oldest cities.

“We pretty much are going to drop her off, because we don’t really have access to her for the week,” her mother, Michelle, said.

Instead, Hebein will spend her time living in residence with the other dancers and attending day-long clinics and choreography sessions.

“It’s pretty much just the dance. I wish I could go see the sights.”

Thanks to her performance during her Advanced 2 examination, Hebein is one of only 11 dancers this year to be awarded a bursary from the Royal Academy of Dance in order to attend the competition.

“I think it’s just over $3,000,” she said. “It’ll help cover the cost of a lot of the expenses that go with it.”

In addition to travel expenses, the bursary will also help offset the cost of her pointe shoes, which usually run about $120 a pair.

“I’m bringing at least five pairs…They usually only last me a month or two,” she said. “That’s why the bursary helps a lot.”

When she’s not training for the Genée, Hebein works as an assistant teacher at Flora Pigeau, helping younger dancers who are just starting out to learn their first steps.

“It’s just really nice to watch them learn from you and stuff,” she said. “It’s really cool cause they always look up to us and it’s a good feeling being able to pass something on to them…It kind of brings back memories [of starting out].”

In 2015, Hebein joined Ballet BC and the Alberta Ballet Company at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre for their production of the Nutcracker, giving her a glimpse of a possible future as a professional ballerina.

But Hebein isn’t in a rush. She’s prepared to take the time to develop technique even further and pay her dues.

“I was talking to my teacher, looking into some programs that are a bit more intense just for some extra training and stuff, and then from there I guess auditioning [for ballet companies] if all goes well,” she said. “I definitely want to keep dancing and I probably would like to try and pursue it after I graduate high school.”

“[I don’t have a] particular company in mind, I’d love to just be a professional ballet dancer.”


Mackenzie Hebein is spending eight hours a day, six days a week, preparing to compete in the Royal Academy of Dance’s Genée International Ballet Competition. (James Smith photo)

Just Posted

North Delta history: Surviving the Spanish flu outbreak of 1918

Spanish flu claimed the lives of 3,500 people that year and infected 30 per cent of B.C.’s population

Tsunami warning issued for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 8.0 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

UPDATE: Fuel truck hits train in Port Coquitlam, causing massive fire

CP Rail reporting no injuries, driver of truck is safe.

COLUMN: We need to change how we think about housing

“…Four to 12 storeys on suitable sites need to be more readily accepted by us, the voting public.”

UPDATE: Brother of teen killed by stray bullet in Vancouver says the death left a void

Alfred Wong, 15, was gunned down while on his way home from dinner with his family

North Delta science students say so long poster board, hello arcade machines

Delview Secondary students to showcase their interactive science projects at Delview Exhibition 2018

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Movie filmed in Castlegar B.C. opens Friday

Hollow in the Land starring Dianna Agron will be playing in select cinemas.

Semi rollover on Highway 3

Highway 3 is reduced to single-alternating lanes

Most Read