By Lissa Alexander
Local dancer Abby Selva didn’t have a backup plan when she applied to a prestigious dance school in London, England. Luckily, she didn’t need one.
“I didn’t really expect to get in,” she said. “But I was really hoping to.”
Selva said she was in a bit of shock when she found out she was accepted, and very excited.
“It was a pretty big process,” she explained as she detailed all the aspects of her application, including multiple videos of her dancing, a resume of her dance history, an application form with reference letters, and more.
Selva was accepted into Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and she begins a BA (hons) in Contemporary Dance in September.
Selva is nearly 18 years old, and is known for being a very strong performer at competitions, and a delight to watch on stage. She regularly wins solo competitions in her age division and recently she won a $1,000 scholarship for her technique at Summit Dance Challenge in Duncan.
The adjudicators nicknamed her “miss technique” explained owner of Qualicum Beach School of Dance Shari Selva, who is also her mother.
“She is a strong technician,” said Shari.
“She really pays attention to the details and has an amazing memory. It has always been so important to her to get it right, and she has the determination to achieve that.”
Abby also won first place with a platinum score for her lyrical jazz solo in Nanaimo at Core Dance on April 29.
Shari said she felt relieved when Abby was accepted to Trinity Laban as there was no “Plan B”. It was Abby’s first choice and she worked hard on the audition video and application, Shari added.
Abby started dancing when she was three years old. Her mom had opened Qualicum Beach School of Dance a couple of years before Abby was born, and brought her to work regularly.
“I basically grew up in the studio, so I would watch everyone,” Abby said, adding that she was envious of the big girls and couldn’t wait to dance herself.
Shari remembers bringing Abby’s ExerSaucer into the office and Abby would watch her mom teach classes. “She loved to watch the big girls and they loved to be big sisters to her,” Shari recalled.
As she got older, Abby’s dance schedule became more intense, and by the age of about 12, she was studying all the different styles of dance. She used to adore ballet, but contemporary is now her favourite. She said she likes how it can be structured, but also unconstrained.
“It can be whatever you want it to be,” she said.
Abby danced 30 hours a week last year, and although she is now working part-time, she continues to dance at least 27 hours a week. She takes a number of classes at Qualicum Beach School of Dance and also goes in on her days off to perfect her competition pieces.
She also dances at Kirkwood Academy, and Prism Dance Connections in Nanaimo.
She said she loves performing, but she also enjoys working in the studio and “cleaning” her pieces. And the artistic part of dance is also important to her.
“I love the artistic parts where you get to be free and improvise,” she said.
Abby has also done some substitute teaching at Qualicum Beach School of Dance, and she has choreographed several pieces.
Her dance goals include completing her degree at Trinity Laban, auditioning to become an apprentice at a dance company, and eventually becoming a member.
“I will hopefully tour; I really want to tour the world dancing, that would be really cool,” she said.
And after her professional dance career is over, which she said could go on as long as her body holds up, she would like to be a dance choreographer.
Shari also attended dance school in England, attending the Laine Theater Arts School in Epsom, Surrey, and then went on to teach dance in Germany and New Zealand.
Shari said she is very excited for Abby, but admitted that it will be hard not seeing her every day, especially at the studio.
“She is a big role model for the other students. They can see from her what hard work and determination can get you.”
Shari says dance is a tough career path, but she is confident Abby will do well.
“Also,” Shari added, “she is an exceptionally nice person.”