Eight-year-old Tess Hintelmann will take her first steps toward her career this summer.
She'll take part in American Ballet Theatre's Young Dancer Summer Workshop in New York.
Tess, who livers off Ardrey Kell Road, began ballet lessons at age 2. Now, she dances six days a week at the Charlotte School of Ballet under distinguished instructors like Gay Porter and Bridget Porter Young.
It was through these teachers that Tess learned about auditions for the workshop, which was for ages 9-11.
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"I had no idea what a big deal it was," her mother, Ali Hintelmann, said. "The audition was only $30 and we had family in Washington, D.C., where it was being held, so I figured, 'Why not?'"
Ali Hintelmann said when they arrived, most of the dancers were surrounded by people stretching them and massaging their feet.
"I was just reading a magazine and suddenly I thought 'Oh no, should I be doing something?' But when I asked Tess she just said, 'I got this Mom.'"
After the audition, Hintelmann tried to prepare her daughter, one of the youngest there, for the likely rejection.
Then the letter came: Tess was in.
"I think they liked that I asked questions," Tess said. The workshop will be the first two weeks of August in New York City at the ABT Studios on Broadway. Participants will have ballet instruction daily, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. with some of the world's best dancers including Franco De Vita, Principal of ABT's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. At the end, the young dancers will put on an off-Broadway show.
It was also through the Charlotte School of Ballet that Tess learned about the Peter Sklar Beginnings workshop. Sklar, a nationally-known speaker, educator, author, talent scout and producer, visits select areas in search of students to attend his workshops. When Sklar spoke at the Charlotte School of Ballet, Tess asked to have an audition.
"I really like to act and be in productions like The Nutcracker," Tess said, "The Beginnings program focuses on acting, dancing and singing."
Sklar sent Tess her acceptance letter in late February. She will attend the program in New York City this summer for one week where she will live in a dorm with the other students. Sklar said Tess impressed him with her self-motivation, verbal expression, outgoing and independent personality. Tess never gets tired of dancing. Her passion inspired the Hintelmanns to convert a spare room in their home into Tess' dance room, complete with a ballet bar, a mirrored wall and wood floors. Turning on music from a classic ballet, Tess dances with grace.
Apart from dancing, Tess does significant volunteer work and makes straight A's at Elon Park Elementary where she is in third grade. She also likes to watch "So You Think You Can Dance?"
"I really would want to try out for something like that one day," Tess said.
In the future, Tess hopes to be part of the New York City Ballet or ABT. "Or possibly an actress," she said with a smile.