At first glance, Tate McRae may seem like a normal 11-year-old. She likes to play with her dog, Theo, hang out with friends, read, ride her bike and go boating with her family. She also enjoys dancing around her house, which is the reason her mom enrolled her in dance classes at the age of six. But if you watched her dance now, you’d notice she’s well beyond her years.
Already, McRae has won the Mini Best Dancer title at The 2013 Dance Awards in New York City, is a featured dancer in a music video, is a Capezio Athlete and ambassador for the brand, trains at least 25 hours a week at her dance schools, and is even an aspiring songwriter. She also has feet to die for and extension up to her ears, to top it all off. McRae is certainly on the rise.
McRae says she has always been surrounded by dance. Her mother, a dance teacher, owned a studio until the time McRae was two years old; then, for three years her family lived in the Middle East, where her mother taught dance classes. All along, McRae loved to improvise, but her formal training began when her family moved to Alberta, Canada, where she currently resides.
Now, she studies ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip hop and even ballroom, and she excels at each style. Each morning, McRae takes ballet classes from 8-11:30am with the Professional Division at the School of Alberta Ballet. She does about seven to eight hours of jazz and contemporary technique a week with her team, the YYC Dance Project. In addition, McRae takes voice lessons and works with her rhythmic coach once a week to keep up flexibility and strength.
On top of all her dance training, she also goes to school twice a week for social studies and science, studies language arts and math online at home, and works with a tutor one to two times a week.
McRae is always eager to learn more and says she travels to work with as many master teachers and choreographers as possible.
“At the moment, I am not quite sure where I want to take my dancing because I believe diversity is extremely important,” McRae says. “I go back and forth between ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip hop, and I am also a singer. So maybe even Broadway!”
McRae’s ambitions have certainly already taken her far, and she’s dipping her toes into all aspects of the dance industry, proving that she’s a versatile, game-for-anything, unstoppable dancer.
Just this past April, McRae competed in the world famous ballet competition, Youth America Grand Prix, where she was awarded a silver medal and also performed a classical pas de deux. Prior to that, she worked with Jenna Maslechko, a videographer and photographer who studies at New York University, in a unique video filmed in Brooklyn. And she also recently danced with Broadway’s Billy Elliot star Myles Erlick in a music video choreographed by Blake McGrath for the band Walk Off the Earth.
“Shooting the video for Walk Off the Earth was definitely one of the coolest experiences I have had,” McRae explains. “We filmed in an art gallery in LA. I got to partner with Myles, who is one of the most amazing dancers. I had never partnered before, but he was so kind and helpful and made me feel so comfortable. The choreography was so fun to perform. Blake was so supportive and encouraging that the whole experience was amazing. By the end of the day, I had lost a toenail and was so dirty, but I felt so proud of our accomplishment!”
McRae says she loves the countless relationships she’s acquired through dance – with teachers, choreographers and fellow dancers.
“My favorite part about being a dancer is meeting teachers and dancers from all over the world and learning from them,” she adds. “There are so many talented dancers my age that it is always motivating to dance beside them.”
Although McRae does admit that she often gets very internal and reserved prior to performing, she says she cherishes the time when she is on stage.
“The most rewarding part is the feeling I get when I am performing on stage,” she says. “Yes, before I go on stage I get nervous, but when I’m on stage it’s the most magical, surreal feeling.”
McRae says her favorite dance steps usually involve anything “leggy” and that jumps are usually the most challenging.
“I like to take my time and hold everything for that one extra second, which does not work so well when you are jumping.”
Even though McRae may not know exactly where she wants to take her dance career, she still has plenty of time to decide and definitely has the work ethic to make anything happen.
To other aspiring dancers, she advises, “Always work hard, never give up, and be very attentive and take in any knowledge that anyone gives you. Also, most importantly, always be humble and kind and appreciate any opportunity that is given to you. Be a sponge!”
By what McRae has accomplished thus far, it is evident that this young dancer takes her own advice.
By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.