Step up to the barre

Published 9:51 pm Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cheyenne Freeman warms up with stretches at the barre at RPM Dance in North Suffolk on Tuesday. The 13-year-old Isle of Wight Academy student has been accepted to the prestigious Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. She has been dancing since she was 2 years old.

Cheyenne Freeman loves to dance.

The 13-year-old student at Isle of Wight Academy enjoys tap, contemporary and hip-hop dancing classes at RPM Dance in North Suffolk. But her favorite form of dance is classical ballet.

She will get the chance to hone her craft this summer after being accepted into the prestigious Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C., for its summer intensive program.

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“I’m excited,” she said. “I think it’s a really good program, and I like it a lot.”

Cheyenne will be attending classes six hours a day, six days a week for three weeks, from June 17 to July 7. She will train under professional ballerinas in the Russian form of classical ballet.

“I really wanted to do the Kirov,” said Cheyenne, who gave up the opportunity to attend another program in Pennsylvania that runs during the same time.

She was one of only 162 dancers invited after an international audition process.

Cheyenne has been dancing since she was 2, when her mother enrolled her in Windsor School of Dance to get her acquainted with other children in the community.

From that 30-minute dance class once a week, Cheyenne’s talent became evident. She trained there for five years before moving to RPM Dance on Bridge Road.

She now trains in several forms of dance for 10 to 12 hours a week and also assists with classes for younger students.

“We’re so proud of her,” said Renee Perry Mitchell, owner and artistic director of RPM Dance and a former Radio City Rockette. “This is a real honor for her to be chosen to do this. This is going to take her to a whole new level.”

Mitchell said it is important for dancers — especially those considering making dance a career, like Cheyenne — to train in many different specialties to see what is best for their body and what they enjoy.

“This will expose her to what’s going on in the national scene and expose her to the professional world and that caliber of training,” Mitchell said. “For students that have the potential to feasibly make it a career, you need to start getting beyond where you are and seeing things at a higher level.”

During the three-week program, which begins June 17, Cheyenne will stay in dorms at the University of Maryland and be transported to the school each morning.

The majority of the day is taken up in the studio for ballet class, but there also are classroom sessions and training in other types of performing arts, such as mime and flamenco dancing.

Cheyenne said she enjoys dancing so much because it is challenging.

“I feel it’s a way I can express myself,” she said. “It’s so elegant and pretty, and it’s hard. It’s a challenge to do.”

Cheyenne’s mother, Jessica Honeycutt, said she is nervous about sending her daughter away for three weeks but knows there will be plenty of supervision — and plenty of work.

“There’s going to be a learning curve,” she said. “It’s a whole different kind of ballet.”

Cheyenne isn’t just a good ballet student. She also makes A’s and B’s in her seventh-grade classes at Isle of Wight Academy.

“I try to get my homework done before I come so I can focus here,” she said.

Her favorite subject — besides dance — is math.

She is the daughter of Jessica and Chuck Honeycutt of Windsor and John and Tammi Freeman of Portsmouth.