Mackenzie Richter wasn’t expecting a lot when she went to Mississippi to compete against some of the top young ballet dancers in the world.
The Warner Robins teen is just 15, and it was the first time she was old enough to participate in the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson.
But when the winners of the Olympic-style event were named Friday morning, she found out she was the silver medalist in the women’s junior division.
“I really wasn’t expecting anything,” she said in a telephone interview. “I just came because I knew it would be a great experience. I got more than I had ever hoped for. I was so surprised, I didn’t know what to think.”
Her division began with 31 competitors, eventually narrowed to seven before the final medalists were announced. The competitors are selected for the event from videos they submitted.
The oldest of five children, Mackenzie is home-schooled and started ballet when she was 7. She began training seriously when she was 11 and wants to be a professional dancer.
She has been selected for Houston Ballet II, a touring dance school that’s part of the Houston Ballet in Houston, Texas. She will be joining it later this year.
Her mom, Jennifer Richter, attended the competition with her in Mississippi.
“It was an amazing accomplishment for sure,” she said. “She worked very hard for it.”
Jennifer Richter said it’s the biggest ballet competition in the country and is one of five major competitions held around the world.
She said her daughter got into ballet when some friends were at their house one day, and invited them to go along to a ballet class.
“About the time she was 10, people starting telling me she has a lot of potential,” Jennifer Richter said.
The USA International Ballet Competition is a two-week event where dancers vie for gold, silver and bronze medals; cash awards; company contracts and scholarships, according to a news release. It is held every four years and is always in Jackson.
“With every competition, we are delighted to see dancers test their skills against a level of intensity that’s only found at the USA IBC,” Sue Lobrano, USA Internal Ballet Competition executive director, said in the release.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.