An Albuquerque teenager is getting ready for the opportunity of a lifetime.
She recently earned a spot to dance with one of the best ballet companies in the country.
She says getting there wouldn’t be possible without the continued support from her community.
“It’s this company that’s full of amazing ballet dancers,” said 15-year-old, Chalina Caton-Garcia.
She says it feels like she’s in a dream.
In just a few weeks she will be making a cross-country road trip to Tampa, Florida for a summer intensive program with the American Ballet Theater.
That is where ballet superstar Misty Copeland dances, one of Chalina’s idols.
“For me, this like means everything,” she said.
Dance has been in her life since she was just three.
“I started to realize that I really loved ballet the last few years and I just poured everything I could into it,” Chalina explained.
She’s worked hard and has overcome setbacks to be accepted into the very selective training after an attempt two years ago that did not work out.
“ABT became sort of a goal for Chalina in that she worked and she worked over two years really pushing herself in which they accepted her,” explained Chalina’s dance teacher Sarah Gonzales.
Over the three week intensive program, nearly all of Chalina’s time will be spent in the dance studio.
“I’m also just hoping to gain a sense of self within dance,” Chalina explained.
“For me to see Chalina on stage?” asked Gonzales, “I cry. I can’t help myself I have to cry every time I see her on stage, she’s a beautiful beautiful dancer.”
Chalina’s dance teacher says she is the most deserving of this opportunity. But it is not cheap.
Through a GoFundMe account, her family has received help to cover some of the costs of traveling to Florida, buying new dance equipment and room and board on top of the tuition.
“I know that when I go this summer I’m like representing all of these people and all of this community that’s standing behind me,” Chalina said.
The up and coming dancer is stepping into the spotlight thanks to the community’s ongoing support.
You can follow Chalina’s journey or help her cause here.