Braya Kluss’ natural talent is evident as soon as she hits the stage.
“It pours out of her every practice,” Emily Hart, a dance teacher at Art in Motion (AIM) said. “She’s grown a lot.”
Kluss has been dancing for the past seven years but is already an accomplished title holder. The 13-year-old recently competed in the Prince George Dance Festival (PGDF) and won several first or second placements for her solo dances, which led to her selection as the provincial delegate in the junior modern category for the BC Festival of Performing Arts Festival in May.
This is her second year making provincials, where she received two first placements for her soft jazz performances last year, but this will be her first time going as a representative for the junior modern category.
She said modern dance can be different from other genres because it allows more room for motion and expression.
“You use the floor and a lot of your body weight so you can move in different ways than you normally would for jazz and ballet,” Kluss said. “You’re trying to tell a story, usually.”
No stranger to competition, Kluss is also ramping up her regimen for the Terrace Pacific Northwest Music Festival (PNMF) beginning April 11, where she will perform five solo dances, eight group dances and a duet over the course of the two-week festival. Then next month, Kluss will travel to Prince Rupert to perform a similar routine at the BC Annual Dance Competition (BCADC).
“I’ve learned to just have fun with your classes, to try new things and to not be shy,” she said. “You kind of forget that there is a big audience there so you just keep doing what you’ve always done.”
Hart has been working with Kluss for at least 10 hours a week for the past four years and said she has seen Kluss grow in determination and skill with every practice.
“She’s one of those kids that when she goes on stage, she demands the crowd, so you know that when you watch her other people will too,” Hart said. “Hopefully she will continue to get better and stronger as each competition goes on.”
Kluss’ high-calibre performances mean a busy couple months are ahead, but she said she knows her passion and determination have paid off in the past. Kluss said she hopes to sharpen her skills and learn more about choreography for future performances.
“It’s a good feeling when you’ve been working so hard over the past year for someone to recognize that. You get to go compete at higher levels, and it’s fun.”