Swannanoa dancer NZ’s top junior

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New Zealand’s top junior dancer Swannanoa’s Sophie Johnstone, aged 9, initially had no interest in dancing.
But that changed four years ago when she was watching her mum Sarah, a dance teacher, working with some of her students.
Suddenly, Sophie felt the joy of dance and knew that she wanted to learn too. Now she has a stack of trophies, ribbons and awards, to show that her epiphany was not just a spur-of-the-moment whim.
Sophie’s most recent success, winning the ‘‘Top Junior Dancer Award’’ at the prestigious New Zealand Dance Awards in Christchurch during Queen’s Birthday weekend earned her top praise from an overseas judge who referred to her as a ‘‘pocket-sized package of perfection’’.
Her win was the result of a huge amount of hard work, determination and ability to achieve goals, Sarah said. Sophie’s success also provided great motivation for Sarah’s other dance students.
The award comes with direct entry into the ‘‘Dancer of the Year’’ finals to be held at the ‘‘Australian Hollywood Bound National Dance Championships’’ in Sydney next January.
In Sydney, Sophie will compete against more than 5000 top-class dancers selected from eight regional events (seven in Australia and one in New Zealand). There are six age divisions for ‘‘Dancer of the Year’’, one winner per age division.
‘‘The winners will receive a trip to the United States, where they will compete at a prestigious event (which is revealed at the finals) and the opportunity to be mentored by industry professionals,’’ Sarah said.
‘‘As New Zealand’s top junior dancer Sophie also won a photo shoot with an Australian photographer who specialises in dance photography.’’
Sophie says she loves the challenge learning to dance provides and also the way it makes her feel. She also loves the ‘‘really cool’’ dance costumes her mum makes for her.
‘‘I take ideas from the music,’’ Sarah said.
Sophie’s dancing repertoire includes jazz, ballet, contemporary, lyrical, musical theatre and hip hop. Although she is still young Sophie is extraordinarily focused on her long-term goal of a career in dance and the performing arts.
She has achieved a lot in the short time she has been dancing and now has the chance to show a much bigger audience what she can do.
It is a big step up for this talented young dancer but she is looking forward to the challenge and the opportunities it presents.
A Givealittle page has been set up to help Sophie along on her path towards achieving her dream of a career in dance and the performing arts.