Dancer gets special birthday gift

Published 10:24 pm Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Josie Ketten got a special gift for her 15th birthday in January. She auditioned and was accepted to a summer intensive program for the American Ballet Theatre.

The audition was on her birthday, Jan. 26, so she was the youngest possible age to be able to try out. The month-long program, which will take place in July at the North Carolina School of the Arts, will allow dancers to train under professional performers.

Josie has been dancing since she was about 2 years old. The past nine years have been with RPM Dance in North Suffolk.

Josie Ketten practices for her audition for the American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive program at North Carolina School of the Arts. (Natalie Kent Photography)

Josie Ketten performs at an RPM Dance concert. She recently was accepted to the American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive program at North Carolina School of the Arts. (Natalie Kent Photography)

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“I like it, because it’s a way to kind of disconnect,” she said, adding she also likes that dancing helps keep her fit.

The audition consisted of a ballet class in which instructors kept a close eye on the participants. The performers then learned a combination of moves and performed them in groups of three or four — in front of all 90 people.

“It was really scary,” she said.

Josie said she is “looking forward to getting better at dance and training with people who are very successful and that have actually made it.”

Josie just got accepted into the Governor’s School for the Arts. This winter, she performed in the Richmond Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” as a soldier.

Josie hopes to make a career of ballet but would also like to be a teacher or a doctor if ballet doesn’t pan out, she said.

“I’m really grateful to my teachers at RPM and my parents,” Josie said. “(My teachers) have helped me and watched me grow forever, and my parents pay for it and support me.”

Renee Perry Mitchell, who owns RPM Dance, said she is excited for Josie.

“American Ballet Theatre is one of the top ballet companies in America, so we are so excited for her to have the opportunity to train under this type of leadership and tradition,” she wrote in an email.

Josie’s parents are Tim and Connie Ketten.