Vernon’s Kennedy Knopf shows her flexibility after receiving top marks at the provincial dance competition held in Nanaimo at the end of May.

Vernon’s Kennedy Knopf shows her flexibility after receiving top marks at the provincial dance competition held in Nanaimo at the end of May.

She knows she can dance!

Provincial festival dance winner, Vernon's Kennedy Knopf, continues her journey to make it on So You Think You Can Dance Canada.

Every season, Kennedy Knopf takes a bit of time out of her crazy, busy schedule to plunk herself in front of the TV and watch her favourite show.

There, she scours every step and line, as muscled legs leap and sinewy arms flow across the dance floor, and judges scream at the top of their lungs about the agony and ecstasy of it all.

No it’s not Dance Moms, but that other reality TV hit, So You Think You Can Dance.

Knopf sees herself on that stage.

At 15, she is still too young to audition for the Canadian version of the reality TV dance competition, but she is definitely on her way to getting there.

Knopf already knows about the sweat and tears involved in dance competitions. She has been entered in regional dance festivals for the past five years, and this past month, she topped the category she was entered in at the Provincial Festival of Performing Arts B.C., better known as the “provincials,” which this year was held in Nanaimo.

“All my students love competition and there’s potential for them to do well, and a lot of them do, but Kennedy is exceptional for adding details and making the dance her own,” said one of Knopf’s dance instructors Becky Martselos, who has watched her student grow and evolve at her Accentz Dance Studio in the past seven years.

Although there is currently no national dance competition for youth in Canada, Knopf continues to make her mark regionally, and now in the province.

“Every competition Kennedy has gone to she has won scholarships to dance camps, conventions, schools,” said Martselos. “Anyone can do this if they have the right drive, and Kennedy does.”

Knopf was chosen to compete at the provincials after being selected for her jazz solo, at the Kamloops regional festival.

“On average, participants do three dances at regional festivals. Kennedy did five,” added Martselos.

Her hard work paid off at the provincials, as Knopf competed among 20 other young women ages 12 to 16, in her category, dancing to Hotel Song by Regina Spektor, that was choreographed by Martselos. She was also able to enter her lyrical dance, performed to the song Stupid by Sarah McLachlan, which was choreographed by her teacher Ashleigh Compton.

“I dance how I express myself,” said Knopf, who when not at Vernon Secondary School, where she is in Grade 10, is at the studio practising, practising, and practising some more.

“Locally, I know what I have to do to be on top, but the provincials is the best of the best, so you have to push yourself harder.”

Having come to Accentz with four years of tap dance already under her belt, Knopf has since branched out thanks to the studio, which offers an annual in-house scholarship to its dancers. Knopf took the $500 she won her first year with her tap solo to study other kinds of dance.

“Accentz is like my No. 2 home. I come down here and it’s another safe house,” said Knopf. “People here make it comfortable –– the friendships I’ve made, and my teachers have become more than teachers, they’re mentors.”

Knopf currently studies tap, jazz, hip hop, ballet, musical theatre, modern, lyrical, contemporary, and is also part of the studio’s new show choir.

She credits her family, especially her mom, for their immense support as well as her teachers Martselos and Compton, as well as Mary Berg, Karina Hettler, Katy Maughan, and Lisa Gelley for helping her reach her goals.

“The more teachers students have, the more it helps in creating amazing dancers,” said Martselos, adding instructors have to constantly be creating dance styles that evolve with the times.

“It also comes back to the basics — the techniques. You can never get enough of single pirouettes.”

Knopf agrees, and adds that it also doesn’t hurt to have a go-get-it attitude –– and those who know her, know she has that in spades.

“I used to drive myself down dancing, but now I push myself. You have to have the talent to back it up,” she said. “Another part of competition and dance is your personality outside of dance. If you have a bad attitude or vibe, you’re automatically off the list.”

Being naturally bubbly, confident and outgoing should come in handy as Knopf pursues her ultimate dream.

This summer is taken up going to Vancouver, using her scholarship money to take workshops, attend camps, and pursue auditions. Knopf also plans to continue on at Accentz, where she is also an assistant instructor, and after graduating hopes to dance on a cruise ship and pursue a business degree.

“I love the kids I teach. I’ve had them for four years and they are like little sisters… I hope I can become a role model for them,” she said. “I would love to start a studio or a company and do what Becky does. Careers in dance can be so unpredictable, but then I couldn’t have imagined what happened this year.”

One thing is for sure, come 19, when she is of age, Knopf will be one of the first in line to smile and leap for the judges on So You Think You Can Dance Canada.

“She knows what she wants to do, so there won’t be any time wasted,” said Martselos.

“You can be lucky with talent and natural ability, but we all have to work on it. My dream is to make a living doing what I love,” added Knopf.