PLATTSBURGH - Although she has been dancing since the age of 3, when Korinne Stay learned she was accepted into a prestigious dancing program, she was truly surprised.
Stay, a senior at Beekmantown High School, applied to Alvin Ailey's American Dance Center in New York City for a six-week summer intensive, with influence from one of her dance teachers, Alice Schonbek - who danced with the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble.
"[Schonbek] suggested that I should just go try out and see what happens," explained Stay who auditioned in December. "And, it worked!"
Stay's mother, Deborah Guibord-Stay, director of Guibord's North Country School of Ballet, explained Alvin Ailey's school is one of the "main modern dance companies in the United States."
"The school is ... run like a tight ship," she said. "it's just very, very well-managed. They offer all the components that are going to make a dancer strong. Their reputation is now so built, that it is a big deal to get into something like this."
Stay was one of more than 2,000 students to audition for the program, with only 150 selected.
She began by performing a ballet piece, followed by a modern piece, where the number of dancers was cut in half.
"They put you into two groups and excused one group," recalled Guibord-Stay. "They're right out there. You're right on the line."
Finally, Stay came out from her audition holding a piece of paper which showed she was accepted into the program.
"That was one of the most delightful moments ever," said Guibord-Stay.
Stay returned to NYC June 20 to begin her six-week session. While there she danced daily, learning ballet, modern, African and Jazz techniques. She also performed in four sold-out performances.
"[The African dance] was completely new," said Stay. "I loved it. It was very athletic. It was something I could do because I'm into that kind of stuff and I really let loose."
While in NYC, Stay dormed at Fordham University and was responsible for her own meals, managing her classes and was unsupervised during her free time.
"It felt like college. We were on our own," she said.
Stay said she would suggest other dancers try out for the opportunity to dance at Alvin Ailey's school because "you don't know what's going to happen."
"Definitely, I would just tell [other dancers] to go for it," said Stay. "Try."
Guibord-Stay added it is necessary to be strong "in your ballet technique."
"As a dancer today, you can't just do one type of technique. You've got to get good training and you've got to be able to branch out and have a pretty open mind about what you're doing," she said.
Stay also suggest youngsters take up dancing.
"It's just a really amazing way to express yourself and find out who you are and who you want to be and what you want to do," she said.