JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Not everyone is afforded the same opportunities but when given the chance to succeed the brightest among us will take full advantage of what they’re given. In July FCN shared the story of two girls from Africa who were chosen to train at The Florida Ballet school on a six week scholarship. Five months later, one of them is still in Jacksonville and she's getting ready for what she calls the performance of her life.
"I didn't hear about the Nutcracker until I actually came here,” said Savannah Carruthers. “We didn't really do many ballets in Uganda. I'd see maybe one person on-pointe once in a while. Here, there are so many and when you see it all put together it's so beautiful."
Those in awe of Savannah say her beauty is in her strength and will.
"Watching her every day in the summer intensive and seeing how hard she worked and I noticed that everybody else kind of noticed it too- that hey we've got someone really special here," said Sarah Piner, a mom of three dancers who now sees Savannah as one of her own. "She is the one kid in my family I don't have to worry about."
Serving as host-mom, Piner's six week adventure with Savannah has turned into five months and counting. The Board of Directors at Florida Ballet offered her another scholarship, this time for the school semester.
"So many people don't have this opportunity in Uganda,” said Carruthers. “But I know that when I come here this is opening up a whole new thing for the relationship between the Florida Ballet and the Kampala Dance Studio. I know next year there will be more people that will have the chance to come here."
She’s away from family, old friends and familiar sites. The sacrifice and countless extra hours Carruthers put-in has led the Ugandan into a major production at The Florida Ballet.
"When I'm on-point it just, it feels like I'm actually dancing,” said Carruthers. “Like you can just feel like you're doing something right. You know that you're improving. You're working really hard. The pain shows that you're getting better.”
Savannah's goal is to attend a university in the U.S. and continue dancing for as long as possible.
The Florida Ballet's Nutcracker will be held at the Lazzara Performance Hall at UNF Saturday, December 16 and Sunday December 17. For ticket info visit The Florida Ballet website.