Three Roane Countians dance way to honors

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By The Staff



Three Roane County students have something to be proud of.

All have made impressive accomplishments through their background in dance.

All three studied at Arts In Motion Dance Studio in Roane County.

Abbey Austin, 18, has been with the studio since it was first opened by her mother, Jennifer, 15 years ago.

She was accepted to college at Shenandoah Conservatory in Virginia, where she will study musical theater.

The school is ranked in the top five colleges in the country for this program, Abbey said.

She has only been acting since her freshman year of high school so does not have as much experience as some others.

“I’ve had to work really hard to get where I am,” she said.

Apparently it paid off. After going through an intense five-minute audition, she was one of 41 freshman chosen out of 900 for the musical theater program.

She has gained experience through her work as a member of the Cumberland County Playhouse.

“She’s a high school student who’s had leads in college performances,” her mother said.

Abbey is looking forward to college in the fall.

“I’m excited to be able to study musical theatre all the time,” she said.

Jennifer hopes that Abbey can be an example for other girls at the studio.

“The most important thing is that she has kicked open doors for other students here,” she said.

Another exemplary student is Carrie Farmer, 16, who was selected to participate in the Professional Division Summer Intensive program of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in New York.

During the six-week program, participants will study ballet and modern dance, then end their study with a performance.

Farmer turned 16 a week before the audition, so she was placed into the more difficult professional age group of 16 to 25.

“It was a little scary,” Farmer said.

Jennifer Austin said she wasn’t shocked when found out Farmer had made it.

“She has the will to compete,” she said, noting that Farmer was the only East Tennessean chosen.

Farmer has danced at Arts in Motion since she was 3 years old.

“I plan on doing this when I get older, and it’s not anything I’m going to step back on,” Farmer said.

Farmer is also a dance instructor and a member of the Literical Company.

A third student, Katrina Kaldenbach, 16, will be attending the Governor’s School for the Arts this summer.

To audition, Kaldenbach had to submit letters of recommendation, her school grade point average, a 4.0 out of a possible 4.0, and had to write several essays.

“They wanted kids who were really well rounded,” Kaldenbach.

She had to audition and go through a private interview.

“It was pretty intense,” Kaldenbach said.

Kaldenbach was selected out of more than 1,000 applicants. She is one of 13 who will participate in the dance program.

“They want the best and the brightest,” Jennifer Austin said.

While at the school, Kaldenbach will take the classes a college dance major would take. She will also get six college credit hours.

“It’s a real honor to have gotten chosen,” Kaldenbach said.

All three students have been studying at the studio together since they were young.

“The ties are really strong here,” Kaldenbach said. “You develop a family.”

They also all have the same ballet instructor, Lilia Valieva, who has taught the girls for 10 years.

“They are incredibly talented,” Valieva said. “And so serious in their dance styles.”