Athena Giesbrecht hopes to someday tap her way to the top of the world.
The Grade 5 student at Harold Hatcher School is off to an excellent start, as she recently posted a third-place showing at the International Dance Organization World Tap Dance Championships in Riesa, Germany earlier this month. More than 30 countries sent representatives to the competition.
Giesbrecht, who trains at Ken Peter’s Dance Express under the tutelage of coach Jayne Peter, took bronze in the solo female children’s event, performing a routine entitled Gettin’ in the Mood. She also competed in the small group, large group and a production number.
Giesbrecht, who will soon turn 10, attended the competition in 2011 as well, competing in the small group event. With an expanded repertoire this time around, she said she was able to get more out of the experience.
"We went more places and I did more dances," said Giesbrecht, who is in her eighth year of dancing.
The competition is a grueling one for dancers competing in multiple categories, as there are quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds. Giesbrecht competed in the final stages in the solo and small group events, and also performed once with her other two groups. In all, Giesbrecht graced the stage eight times in three days.
She was challenged by this year’s solo routine, as it was a faster one than she had performed before and it incorporated more advanced moves like a one-foot pickup and a double pirouette.
Giesbrecht prefers to dance solo because it allows her to better express herself.
"Instead of being exactly like the other people, I can do my own (dance)," said Giesbrecht, whose routine was choreographed by Scott Peter.
Giesbrecht qualified for the worlds during the Canadian championships this past spring, earning a spot alongside Toronto’s Brianna Visconti, who won gold in Riesa.
In addition to performing, Giesbrecht was also afforded the opportunity to get to know members of the international dance community.
It’s tradition for competitors to trade their nation’s memorabilia to fellow dancers. Team Canada gear was particularly in demand. Giesbrecht’s mother, Sherry, ended up trading her track suit to a South African competitor for a jacket.
"Even though it’s a competition, it’s very friendly," Sherry said. "You just meet so many people from all over the world."
Giesbrecht hopes to continue dancing competitively as long as she can, and would like to eventually get involved in teaching.
Peter said the sky is the limit for Giesbrecht.
"I think she can make it as a dancer. She can make it to Broadway, go to L.A., do dance videos, go on cruise ships," she said. "The possibilities are endless."