Twelve-year-old Emiko Koizumi has been in dance for half her young life.
It’s a 10-18 hour-per-week endeavour for the Campbell River girl. Add that to her schoolwork, chores at home and a bit of time with her friends, and there’s not much time for sleep, let alone for scrolling through Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram – activities many teenagers seem to immerse themselves in these days.
And it’s been paying off.
She’s already been a member of Team Canada’s Hip Hop Dance Team – taking home fourth place from a competition in Germany last year. Oh, and she recently returned from Powell River as the best under-12 solo stage dancer in B.C.
Shawna Sloan, Koizumi’s coach and instructor at CR DanceXtreme, who teaches the competitive teams, says she saw something in Koizumi before she was allowed to recruit her at age eight.
“I don’t teach the really young kids, but I drop in to see their year-end shows, and I just saw her dancing and said, ‘I want her.’”
“Emiko has something really, really, special that you just can’t teach. It’s grit. Tenacity. She’s amazing. She’s got the whole package. You have to be able to feel something when you watch a dance, and you definitely feel something when you watch her.”
Sloan and the team at CR DanceXtreme are just wrapping up their eighth season, and they’ve been churning out high-level dancers all along.
Sloan doesn’t take any credit for that, though.
“They work hard,” she says. “They work their butts off. We (as instructors and coaches) can guide and direct their energy, but we can’t do the work.”
That’s why they consistently take home awards from prestigious competitions and festivals like next week’s Nationals in Las Vegas, which they are packing for now.
You could say they’re confident. They haven’t qualified yet for entry into Nationals – which a team does by qualifying through a regional competition – but they’re planning on doing that while they’re down there.
“That’s what we’ve done the last two times we’ve gone down,” Sloan says. “We go every two years, and we’ve made it both times.”
Part of the reason they do it this way is the cost. It makes more sense financially to do both a regional competition and Nationals in one trip rather than make two jaunts south of the border with that many people, after all.
It’s all part of the experience for these girls. They take it seriously, they work hard at it, and they reap the rewards of that effort.
“We train these kids with the idea of becoming incredible human beings no matter what they decide to do,” Sloan says, “but also, if they want to be in the dance industry – music videos, commercials, world tours with big artists, living in places like L.A. or New York – that they will hold their own. They’ll be prepared for it. They’ll know what to expect and they’ll have the skills they need to succeed.”
It’s a little early for Koizumi to be thinking about that, though.
Her schooling is important to her, as well – life can’t be all about dance, after all – and she’s keeping her options open for the future.
It’s not like she doesn’t have time to think about it.