Despite the roller coaster of strength, endurance and emotions, Vernon’s Kennedy Knopf helped her country dance its way to the top.
As a member of Team Canada’s dance team, the local teen recently competed at the International Dance Organization World Championships in Poland in December. And they danced their way to the top, with the top trophy haul out of all 24 countries competing.
“Every time you win they would play that country’s anthem,” said the blue-eyed, red-haired dancer. “So Canada was played a lot.”
Knopf was one of the 19 dancers on the senior dance team, where she competed in jazz, modern and ballet.
She also took her first steps on stage with a male in a self-choreographed duet.
“I’ve never danced with a guy,” said Knopf, who found an instant connection during rehearsals with Burnaby SFU student Brodie Hargreaves (who claimed the World Champion title in his solo routine).
“We had never worked together before but we instantly had this connection.
“That was an amazing experience; that was my highlight of the whole thing.”
And obviously the pair’s unity impressed the judges, as they placed fifth out of 38 in their duet category.
But it was Knopf’s solo performance that went off track.
Going into her jazz dance she was confident, even despite the seven judges placed right in front of the stage and the fact that she was up against close to 40 other dancers.
“I felt like I had my nerves under control,” said Knopf.
But there was one competitor whom she knew could shatter her confidence – a South African dancer whom she ended being forced to watch and then follow directly after.
Her nerves were instantly heightened and butterflies filled her stomach, leading her to a placing she won’t even divulge.
“That was hard,” said Knopf. “I was a wreck.
“I can say this honestly, I was a leader on the team so I felt like I had let the team down. But that’s the life of a dancer, you only get two minutes up there.”
Of course, her team assured her that they had not been let down, and as it turned out, in the end she helped them secure the top spot.
The experience is one she will never forget, and one that could lead to even more.
“This on my dance resume, it will definitely open up so many more opportunities for me.”
Now, the Grade 12 student is continuing her dancing with Accentz Studio, where she is busy choreographing and dancing in local competitions. She is also teaching at the Vernon Recreation Complex and is even choreographing her grad fashion show.
She plans to audition for as much as possible after school and has an interest in coaching, as well as making world championships more financially accessible for dancers like her.
Being the only dancer from the Interior, Knopf travelled to Coquitlam every weekend for more than three months to rehearse with the team.
But she is thankful for her community, who helped get her there through donations.
“We were overwhelmed with the amazing generosity of our community,” said Knopf, thanking the numerous businesses, friends, family, and acquaintances who so generously donated auction items, time, money, gift certificates, bottles and more.