THE bright lights of New York will shine on 17-year-old Bundaberg ballerina Leisa Petersen when she takes up a position at The Joffrey Ballet School in February.
Spending four hours a week training and teaching younger dancers as well, Leisa said she never expected to be accepted after auditioning against aspiring dancers from across the world.
"I danced my heart out but I was up against full-time dancers so I certainly didn't expect to be accepted," she said.
"When I found out I was in a class, I saw a text my mum sent to my teacher - I couldn't concentrate for the rest of the class."
Leisa said there was a way dancers were meant to feel when they put their all into a routine and she said this year at the Bundaberg Eisteddfod she felt it. "I did an impromptu routine and put all my heart into it," she said.
"It felt like I was where I was supposed to be.
"I want to be a performer, I want to entertain people and make them happy."
Leisa said her goal was to make it into one of the world's leading companies.
"I dance all three disciplines, tap, jazz and ballet," she said.
"But I've gone down the ballet road, it's my favourite.
"I hope I can be accepted to a ballet company."
Dancing under the guidance of Dianne McLellan, dancer director of the Dianne McLellan Dancers since she was five years old, Ms McLellan said Leisa had worked incredibly hard and deserved her chance.
"She just lives and breaths (dance), she works hard to be able to do everything to the best of her ability," she said.
"Her artistic flair, the way she moves her hands and head, it's just beautiful.
"They would have seen that in her audition."
Ms McLellan said there was a high level of commitment required to get to where Leisa was.
"Dance is like sport, it takes a lot energetic effort and only a few reap rewards of this calibre."
Leisa will have to reaudition each year to retain her place in the four-year program.
For more than 57 years, Joffrey Ballet School students have graduated and gone on to dance with world-class ballet companies, including the Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet , and other companies in America and Europe.
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