Sophia Smith sat squarely in an easy chair recently, just an hour or so after she started the day as a Grade 4 Lendrum Elementary School student.

She speaks with confidence and passion of her love — dance — and makes a sound, even compelling point about her craft … remarkable wisdom coming from a 10-year-old.

“It’s something I could talk about for hours and hours,” Sophia said on her own, even though her mother Shannon was seated a breath away, but doesn’t provide any prodding in the least.

“I think dancing should be considered seriously as a sport,” Sophia said in a tone which — honestly — would rival any lawyer’s closing argument. “We practice, and train, just like an athlete does.”

It’s a journey Sophia has embraced for all but two years of her life. To dance, and perhaps more poignantly, to be happy.

“I like it. I enjoy it,” she said. “And I really don’t mind the busy schedule.”

And, for Sophia, it has been a hectic time since March, when she auditioned with 160 other dancers in Alberta for the right to strut her stuff at the International Dance Organization’s World Dance competition in Poland, Rawa Mazowiecka — to be exact.

In fact, Sophia, Shannon and grandmother Bobi Kohsman are on the plane Friday, two days before the competition starts.

It’s … pretty global. A total of 4,000 dancers from 32 countries are making the trip into Poland for the nine-day event.

That’s why Sophia’s solidified spot — and the other team members from the age of nine and spanning to adults — is a monumental feat in itself, even before she lands in Poland, her inaugural European journey.

“It’s a big stage,” Sophia said, “with no curtains so dancers can’t wait in the wings to perform our numbers.

“And, there are cameras in the ceiling so judges can see if you’re out of step in their numbers.”

That’s why Sophia has been practising 12 hours a week, if not more, so she will be at the top of her game — sports analogy, of course — under the instruction of veteran dance choreographer Shelly Tookey.

“I really enjoy the precision part of dance,” Sophia said.

As one of the youngest members on the team, Sophia is scheduled for four numbers in Poland. If she continues to progress through the competition, Sophia and her team members will perform the same numbers.

“We’re going to have heats — just like the Olympics,” Sophia said.

But there are many other experiences waiting which are far away from the dance floor.

“I’m looking forward to meeting people from all over the world, and seeing what life is like in Poland.”

With a cost of $3,800 per dancer, the adventure doesn’t come cheap.

A sold-out event and silent auction were held a few weeks ago at Festival Place in Sherwood Park, with all proceeds going to the trip.

Sophia hopes to look back on her trip 10 years from now with several life lessons and treasured memories.

It’s indeed special this event comes just prior to the festive season when we think of what others might give us.

In Sophia Smith’s case, she has given herself a most individualized a unique gift: a love of dancing and her strong-willed conviction to get better.

Something like that is too priceless to be placed under the Christmas tree. 



Written by 

Follower of Christ, husband, father, grandfather, Edmonton Sun columnist, Oiler Entertainment Group writer, co-author of Disabled? Hell No! I’m a Sit-Down Comic, speaker, comedian, Challenge Insurance special projects advisor, former Edmonton Journal columnist, vice-cjair of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities and closet Beverly Hillbillies mega fan and (very small) closet disco singer.