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Manhattan to World Class

Manhattan’s 11 year old Mikaela Cameron is one of the top ranked ballerinas in the world for her age

The past few years have been a challenging time for the world. Thankfully, however, the timing proved to be divine for Mikaela June Cameron, an 11 year old, aspiring professional ballerina. A native of Manhattan, standing at 5’0” and 75 pounds with red hair and blue eyes, she has been on a world class trajectory since the day she was born. 

The daughter of Marc & Monica Cameron, Mikaela officially began her dancing career at Bate’s Dance Studio in Manhattan at the age of two. However, her pursuit actually began long before that. “She really started going to the dance studio at one week,” says Monica. “Once she started walking, she’d put on a leotard and dance in the hallway.” At the age of five, she headed to the Kansas Ballet Academy in Topeka. In 2019, she began training at the Kansas City Ballet School, until last year, where she made a huge transition and headed to train at A&A Ballet in Chicago. She was able to compete at the Youth American Grand Prix 2022 International Finals in February in Tampa, Florida, where hundreds of talented student dancers, ages 9-19, come from around the world for the competition.

There are three overall competition categories at the finals, and she competes in “Pre-Competitive,” which is for 9-11 year olds. This year, she won the silver medal in the classical dance category at the international finals, where participants from more than 30 countries competed. (There is actually just a 0.03% chance of finishing in the top three!) At the Chicago semi-final, she was awarded with the Hope Award, which is given to the ballerinas who are considered most outstanding in both classic and contemporary disciplines. She was subsequently awarded scholarships to the Princess Grace Academy in Monaco, the John Cranko Schule in Stuttgart, Germany, and the Alberta Ballet School in Calgary, Canada. She is currently on a full scholarship this summer with the American Ballet Theatre Jackie Kennedy Onassis School in New York City. She trains at A&A in Chicago, under the guidance of Alexei Kremnev, Anna Reznik & Ludmila Lupu. 

One of the best aspects about this journey for M.J., as she’s lovingly known, is that she gets to share it with her older sister, Meagan, 14. They room together with a host family in Chicago, while attending classes virtually with USD 383’s Manhattan Virtual Academy. Mikaela will be a sixth grader in the fall, and Meagan will be a freshman.

While the thought of being so far away from your children can cause apprehension, for Marc and Monica, this experience has mostly been about supporting their girls' ambitions. “The arts have a career path. We want that for them because they want that for themselves. We don’t ever want to stand in the way of their dreams,” says Marc. Before they left to train full time in Chicago, they would do traditional school in the day time before driving to Kansas City for evening ballet training. They would do this four days a week. Once the pandemic happened, they took it as an opportunity to do ballet during the day, and virtual school at night. That then slingshot them to Chicago, beginning their journey there in August of 2021. “The maturity I’ve seen develop in both of them has been outstanding,” says Marc. “We’re proud of these girls and the pursuit they’re on.” 

Next on the docket is a trip to Europe this fall to see the schools in Monaco and Germany. Beyond that, the world is their oyster for these young, aspiring world class professional ballerinas from Manhattan!