A Nelson girl will go to Germany next month with her shiny black tap shoes all ready to perform on a world stage.
Ava Koeltgen, 13, will be heading to Riesa for the World Championship Tap Dance Competition at the start of December to compete with the National Team against 50 other countries.
“I’ve never been to Germany before and it’s going to be my first time in a competition,” she said.
The excited young woman first started tapping with Dance Umbrella when she was five-years-old. Like many youngsters, her parents signed her up for one of the many activities open to kids. Soon, it became apparent that Ava had some rhythmic talent.
“When you are a tap dancer, you have to keep the beat with your feet,” said Ava.
A homeschooler, Ava also does ballet, jazz and hip hop as well as singing and taking piano and drumming lessons. Among all her pursuits, Ava’s mom Jeanine could see that tap dancing was a path suited to her daughter.
“It seemed to come naturally to her. And the smile on her face — that’s what did it for me,” said Jeanine.
Ava’s dad Harold sees tap as a great physical activity and he’s happy to see his daughter have any opportunity.
“It’s nice to introduce kids to things so they can find what they really like to do,” he said.
Today, Ava’s training has been taken to new heights. At the beginning of October she started making weekend treks to Chilliwack to train with the 14 other dancers a part of Tap Team Canada. The driving is worth it.
“It’s quite a special event she’s working toward,” said Harold. “It’s not an every day thing. She’ll be representing Canada.”
Tap Teammates include four other youngsters from Lethbridge, Alberta and nine from the Lower Mainland.
Ava secured her spot on that team by auditioning while in Vancouver for International Tap Fest.
There she watched and was instructed by famous tap dancers like Maud Arnold, Sara Reich and Kyle Wilder. It was impressive and inspiring, said the aspiring professional dancer who came home to Nelson with her tap shoes autographed.
Jeanine thought auditioning for the World Tap Dance Championships would be a great learning experience and was wowed when Ava secured a spot in the December 3 to 7 event.
Ava’s performance in Germany remains a secret but anyone interested in catching the dancer on stage can attend an open house at the Capitol Theatre on November 26.
Ava’s ballet class is having an informal open house that day and her Dance Connection instructor Lynette Lightfoot has offered to include the tap number. Despite no lights, no curtains, no costumes, there will be lots of effort as Ava dances at 6:15 p.m.
Performing to Dance Beats, Ava said the tune she picked “sounded neat and different with a good beat to follow.”
“Older music usually works better but you can tap dance to everything,” she said.
Leading up to the open house, Ava and her family are holding a silent auction on Facebook to raise funds for her trip to the worlds. Found at https://www.facebook.com/tappingauction or by searching National Tap Dance Competition Auction for Ava Koeltgen, auction items can be collected at the Capitol Theatre prior to Ava’s performance. A donation box will also be at the theatre that night.
Ava plans to keep dancing into adulthood and with proud parents in support.
“As long as she’s having a good time, that’s fine with me,” said Harold.