Yukon dancer wants to go national

Sadie Segriff has tried, and quit, many things. Piano, swimming, soccer, biathlon, guitar, skating ...the list goes on. But she has never given up ballet.

Sadie Segriff has tried, and quit, many things.

Piano, swimming, soccer, biathlon, guitar, skating … the list goes on.

But she has never given up ballet.

“That’s how we knew ballet was important,” said stepfather David Skelton. “If she wanted to do something and we could afford it, we would send her there, to give her as many opportunities as possible.”

But now, the 12-year-old’s main pastime is becoming her passion.

It’s also become unaffordable.

After submitting a video audition, Segriff has been accepted to Canada’s National Ballet School’s summer program.

The summer courses are auditions in themselves. About 180 dancers from around the world join returning students for four weeks of three to four classes a day, six days a week. All the while, the students are vying for only 150 spots.

But despite these chances, the costs are high – roughly $4,000 for the month, not including travel expenses.

“It’s a lot,” said Skelton. “It’s a real lot. It’s more than we have. We couldn’t do it without support from other people.”

So the family is looking to the community for help.

This Sunday, they are staging a fundraiser at the Old Fire Hall.

There will be live music and a barbecue. “It will be modest,” Skelton said.

Segriff is both nervous and excited about the opportunity, she said.

“I’m excited for her,” said Colleen Segriff, Sadie’s mom. “I don’t know what life will be like without her. For the past 12 years I have lived and breathed Sadie. But I believe in her. It’s one of her strengths and it’s a passion.”

Since she was five years old, Sadie has been taking ballet lessons – even when she hated it, she said, adding that it’s the challenge that keeps her at it.

And while her parents admit they don’t know much about ballet, like most people, they are aware of the negative and dangerous aspects of the profession.

“Ballet has a terrible history of eating its young,” said Skelton, listing the competitive nature among dancers, the body issues many ballerinas develop, the short lifetime of a dancer’s career and the abominably low wage even the most famous ballet dancers make.

“But she’s very thoughtful about it and her eyes are pretty open,” he said about Sadie.

“She’s intelligent and emotionally balanced,” said Colleen. “Because of who she is, I feel she’ll be capable of handling the situation.”

Movies like Black Swan sensationalized the industry, Colleen said.

And for Sadie at least, “The positive outweighs so much of the negative,” she said.

On June 4, the young dancer will head down to Toronto, all on her own.

But the big city isn’t a concern for her. Sadie was born just outside the megacity and all of her extended family lives close by.

“Someone will visit her regularly,” said Skelton, adding that it is important for Sadie to have people in her life, outside of ballet, to help keep that mental balance.

The young dancer’s biggest concern is meeting new people.

“I’m really shy,” she said, adding that she thinks living in the students’ residence will help.

“And she will call us every single day, right?” Skelton said, lowering his eyes to Sadie.

She smiled and nodded yes.

She was standing beside him but never really stood still, her feet and legs constantly motioning through different positions and movements, her feet rising onto their balls over and over.

“You’re supposed to think about a lot of things when you dance,” she said, mumbling a list of instructions: shoulders down, head up, back straight, thighs turned out.

“But I don’t think of anything,” she said.

Her eyes drifted away, her foot pointing and lifting to her other leg.

“You’re supposed to think about what you’re doing, but I just think about what comes next.”

The fundraiser to help send Sadie to the national program starts at 4 p.m. this Sunday, at the Old Fire Hall.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com