Many little girls say they want to be ballerinas when they grow up but then move on to other career ideas. But when Elina Lucky decided at the age of four that she wanted to be a professional dancer, she never changed her mind. "I love dancing because it allows me to be who I am," she says. "I feel free and I feel like I'm in a different world when I'm dancing."
At five, Elina's family decided to move from Australia to Canada. When her mother, Deborah, told Elina's dance teacher the news, the instructor seemed very disappointed. "You're taking away my little teacher!" she exclaimed. Says Deborah, "Whenever she taught something new in class, Elina got it immediately, but the other students would struggle. She would get Elina to demonstrate it and the students got it faster. She said she never had that trait in a student before. That is when I realized that Elina has something special."
Deborah encouraged Elina's passion, putting her in dance lessons in Yorkton and encouraging her to volunteer at a local elementary school teaching hip hop. Deborah believes that it's important for young people to be involved in artistic pursuits because it promotes healthy self-esteem and behaviour. "When a child is happy, they feel confidence to accomplish things - study, interact positively with their peers, and work hard towards achieving their goal. When children have low self-esteem, they can't express themselves, they lack self-confidence, are withdrawn, shy, which leads to other negative behaviours. Building a child's self-esteem is one of the most important things any parent can do to ensure that the child becomes successful in life," she says.
Now 13 years old, Elina is actively pursuing her dream. She was accepted into the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) School's full-time program, beginning in fall 2015. The opportunity came after Elina participated in the 2015 RWB summer session, with the help of a Premier's Centennial Arts Scholarship. "This was my second time at the summer session. I learned a couple of new techniques, and I learned some other ways to improve," she says. "I have knock knees, which means I have a bump on my knee when I stretch my leg. Now I can straighten my leg properly. It helped me drastically because everything looks so much better."
She plans to pursue dance professionally as well as a degree in law and business. The RWB has an agreement with the University of Winnipeg where students can go to university full-time and still dance in the company. "I'm working on achieving that goal. When I get there, I want to balance how I can do my university classes and also dance, because it's something I love and can't see myself not doing it."
Photos: Mitch Photography.