Burch, 13, was one of the 50 students worldwide accepted into a three-week program to train with the Académie Américaine de Danse de Paris.
“I’m a little nervous for the plane ride,” the Sandy Springs resident said. “Once I get there, I think I’ll be fine.”
Burch, who has been dancing since she was 3, now dances for the Atlanta Ballet Centre in west Midtown. She said she enjoys the challenge ballet brings to her life.
“You have to be disciplined enough,” Burch said. “I have practice five days a week, from an hour and a half to three hours.”
She was recommended to audition for the Paris program by the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education Dean Sharon Story.
“Students audition from around the world for these programs, so places are hard to come by,” said Kate Gaul, Buckhead Centre principal and Atlanta Ballet faculty member. “We are all very pleased that her audition was successful and will look forward to hearing about her experiences there.”
Burch said her trip will be the first time traveling independently and is looking forward to experiencing the French culture.
In Paris, Burch will be staying in convents, which were converted into dorms.
“I think the thing I’m most excited about overall is meeting new people and the new styles of how people teach dance,” she said.
After dancing in a final performance in Paris, she will travel to Southern California for a four-week training session. One week will be with the Royal Academy of Dance, where she will take one of its vocational-level exams. Then, she will spend three weeks training with the American Ballet Theatre.
“Again, Kiara had to audition for the program, competing with students from across the country for a place. …She has been training very hard over the past few years working towards her goal of a career in dance,” Gaul said. “I am sure that Kiara will finish the summer as a stronger and more well-rounded dancer.”
Atlanta Girls’ School teacher Melissa Hankinson, who is Burch’s advisor, described Burch’s style as “subtle” in both school and dance.
“When you read her work, you get to enjoy a product that seemed effortless in its creation. In reality, her work is the result of thoughtful processing and constant refining. This certainly translates to the stage,” Hankinson said. “While the process behind the scenes may be tedious, the product has a beauty that makes you forget about the work that went into it.”