GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new docuseries is pulling back the curtain on the training it takes to become a professional dancer.
For Kennedy Targosz, ballet is more than just a hobby or a fun sport — it’s her passion. It’s hard work, it’s dedication and even as a teenager, she already knows it’s what she wants to do for the rest of her life.
On most days, you’ll find her at the dance studio, where she feels most at home.
“Dancing was a way to communicate and express myself without having to talk,” she said.
Kennedy’s mom Cami Targosz says that even at a young age, Kennedy’s dancing spoke for itself.
“I guess we always thought she was special. But teachers would start approaching us asking if she’d be interested in doing a solo,” Cami Targosz said. “We just took cues from teachers.”
There was one teacher in particular who knew from the minute he saw Kennedy that she’d be a star. That was David Braciak of David Matthew Studios.
“I saw her across the studio through the glass window and she was doing hip-hop,” Braciak said. “Well, but not terribly well, and I was like, ‘Who is that girl? She needs to (be a) ballerina.”
Braciak and Kennedy started working together, and Kennedy blossomed. She spent hours upon hours in the studio during the week and traveled to dance competitions around the country on weekends.
One summer, she took an even bigger step: The School of American Ballet in New York City.
“I was 12 when I auditioned for their summer course,” Kennedy said. “At that time, I didn’t realize how much of a big deal the school really was.”
Here’s how big of a deal the School of American Ballet is: each year, 3,000 dancers audition. Of those dancers, only 200 are invited to summer camp, and then only about a dozen are invited to stay for an entire year.
Kennedy was 14 when SAB invited her to stay year-round. And while she was prepared to move to New York and take that first leap toward a career as a professional dancer, her parents weren’t quite as ready.
“They definitely thought about it and thought through everything. But in the end, they knew it was the right decision for me to go because that’s what I really wanted and school is where I wanted to go,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy’s dad says he and his wife knew they couldn’t say no if it was for selfish reasons.
“We have to let her pursue her dreams, so that’s what we did and never looked back,” Daryl Targosz said.
They talk daily, getting glimpses of Kennedy’s big city life.
“It’s great ‘cause she’s there at a Starbucks across from Central Park and you can see the Empire State (building) in the background, and she’s studying and she’s like, ‘What are you doing, dad?’ I’m at Wendy’s on 28th Street.”
The “On Pointe” docuseries shows the serious side of the life of a dancer and just how rigorous the training is at SAB. It shines the spotlight on the committed, determined dancers, giving them the recognition usually reserved for other athletes.
Kennedy is hoping her hard work pays off. Her ultimate goal is to join a professional dance company.
“(New York City) Ballet, of course, is the dream company because SAB is the official school for NYC Ballet,” she said. “But I would be happy dancing anywhere.”
And for Kennedy’s parents, it’s not whether she stays with ballet — it’s about watching her gain new experiences and mature as a person.
“We just want to see her happy,” Cami Targosz said. “Part of that is achieving her goals but we’re just letting life take its course and hoping for the best.”
And Kennedy has a message for other shy girls who find their home in the dance studio.
“Just go for it. If this is what you really want, then do everything you can to keep going,” she said.
Kennedy has been home in West Michigan for a few months because of the pandemic but she’ll soon head back to New York City to finish out the semester.
Then, next fall, she’ll take another big step: auditioning for dance companies and hoping for an offer to take her place in the spotlight.