If you’d asked Taryn Sweeney at the age of four what she wanted to be when she grew up, the answer would have come in a frilly tutu.
It was back then that the now 18-year-old Vernon dancer went through the ritual of pinning her hair high upon her head in a tight bun, and wearing a snug fitting leotard with accompanying tights.
She also, no doubt, learned the trick of tucking in those laces on her ballet slippers to avoid being tripped up.
For years, she pliéd, jetéd and eventually pirouetted, encouraged by her longtime instructor, Margo Larose at the En Avant School of Dance in Vernon.
The hard work paid off, when in Grade 7, the former Hillview Elementary School student was accepted to the summer school program at the National Ballet School (NBS) in Toronto.
Sweeney’s dream of becoming a ballerina would airlift five years ago when was accepted to the year-round program at the NBS, where she studied classical ballet and contemporary along with academic courses.
“The city was amazing and the opportunities endless. I loved the school,” said Sweeney, who while in Toronto lived in an apartment on the city’s famed Jarvis Street.
The school, with its strict policies, also helped in making her the person she is today. Sweeney credits that in part to Mavis Staines, the NBS’ artistic director.
“I had her as a teacher for two years. She is super artsy fartsy, but she could be terrifying,” laughed Sweeney. “I for sure now have really good discipline and awesome time management, but I also developed my technique by training professionally.”
Now home upon completing her studies, Sweeney’s career ambitions have changed. She has just entered the four-year nursing program at UBC Okanagan.
“I decided the professional ballet life was something I didn’t want to live,” said Sweeney. “It is a short career, and your 12-year-old self is quite different from when you are 18. It’s hard on the body and emotionally draining, so I decided to come back and my family has supported me the whole way.”
However, that young girl whose ambition to become a ballerina has not left Sweeney. Instead, the young woman is paying it forward by now teaching ballet to young children at En Avant.
“I have graduated to teaching while I spend another four years in school for nursing,” she said, adding, “I am happy to be home.”