DANCING FOR CANADA - Fifteen-year-old Izel Pienaar, Team Canada Dancer, performed at the World Ballet, Jazz and Modern/Contemporary Dance Championships in Poland last week. photo submitted

Team Canada dancer returns to Red Deer laden with medals

Red Deer dancer wins three silver medals and a bronze at World Championship

A local 15-year-old Team Canada dancer has done us proud.

Red Deerian Izel Pienaar returned from The International Dance Organization’s World Championship in Poland, with three silver medals and a bronze on Dec 11th.

“I was really happy!” Pienaar said about placing so well.

She was surprised they did so well because there were so many great countries represented.

Last week, 2,000 athletes competed for titles in Pointe Ballet, and Jazz and Modern/Contemporary Dance at the World Championship in Poland.

She said a highlight for her was meeting so many new people from all over the world.

“I really enjoyed being able to watch all the other dances and learn from them, and learn from the other countries and stuff.”

The World Championship is grueling – pushing the young competitors to their limits physically and mentally.

Teams dance in the first round to qualify, move up to the one-eighth round, the quarter-finals and the semi-finals before competing for medals in the finals.

Some days, she performed up to six dances in different categories.

Even though the days were long and they had to work hard, the victories made it all feel worthwhile.

“It felt really cool to be around a bunch of people and everyone cheering you on,” she added, reflecting on the experience.

Pienaar competed in six different categories: Adult Ballet Pointe small group and large formations, in both of which the team claimed silver medals and Adult Jazz formations where they again took the silver.

She and her team won a bronze medal for their junior jazz small group performance as well.

In the adult modern formation they placed eighth and in the junior modern small group they placed ninth.

Her mother Emeila Pienaar said, “As a mother, it was an emotional experience. I was extremely proud to see Izel on the podium.”

Team Canada West consisted of 61 dancers between the ages of nine to 18-years-old, from 13 different dance studios.

The dancers only worked together five weekends before the championship, training no more than eight hours as a group.

“The Team got along so well and really bonded really over the experience,” said Emelia.

Pienaar auditioned for Team Canada back in March and was ecstatic to discover that she had made the time in July.

Jetlag didn’t stop Pienaar from getting right into her routine; the Grade 10 student was back at class at Hunting Hills High School and then on to dance practice at Strive Dance Academy on Monday.

She said it was weird adjusting back to ordinary life, especially recovering from the time change.

In the short term, she is focused on her jazz exams, to move up for the next level and getting caught up in school. High school exams start next week.

Izel hopes to try out for Team Canada again next year.

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