McKaela Rowland debuts as main ballerina in L'Automne

Published on Thursday, November 15, 2018

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McKaela Rowland has leading role in L'Automne.

Jerry Finley Photo

McKaela Rowland has leading role in L'Automne.

Enlarge photo

McKaela Rowland

Jerry Finley Photo

McKaela Rowland


Walking into International Ballet, instructors can be heard shouting typical ballerina jargon. As ballerinas dance around the room, perfecting their pirouettes, the music plays loudly, shaking the room. Moms with their younger children wait for their dancer to finish practice, eager to go home to finish homework and eat dinner. One of these moms is Tonya Rowland, whose daughter, McKaela Rowland, has just finished practice for her starring role in L’Automne.

McKaela is a 16-year-old sophomore in high school and in senior company with the International Ballet. This company is a prestigious studio in Greer whose mission is to take the beauty of classical ballet and incorporate it in a modern world.

Rowland knew she wanted to be a professional ballerina when she was 12, and started dancing at the age of two. She danced with Carolina Ballet for three years and has found her home and family with International Ballet. One of her main instructors is Vlada Kysselova, who works closely with Rowland. “McKaela started ballet at International Ballet Academy with me at seven years old. She is a talented student with good potential. I’m proud to see that she has earned a position as a soloist in International Ballet’s Senior Company,” said Kysselova.

Hoping to pursue a career as a professional ballerina and dance for a company, Rowland practices meticulously in order to stay in tune with her skills. “She is in the studio 20-25 hours a week,” said Russ Rowland, the father. He went on to say that she is in the best place she can be and finds that the Russian instruction she is getting is what she needs to go further.

Being home schooled with three other siblings, McKaela is never bored. With an energetic family who encourages her daily, she is able to pursue her passions and make her dream a reality. With Ellison Ballet and The School of American Ballet, both in New York, she is able to further her skills with these summer intensive programs and travel.

Rowland has also danced in Jackson, Miss., with Ballet Magnificat, a Christian dance company. “That was one of her first dance competitions,” said Tonya Rowland. She knew that her daughter from a young age would follow the career choice of being a ballerina.

Both of Rowland’s parents’ favorite performance of their daughter would be when she played young Clara in “The Nutcracker.” “Not everybody gets to do that part. It wasn’t a huge dance role but had been a goal of McKaela’s,” said Tonya Rowland.

Another goal of McKaela’s is to obtain a degree in physical therapy and nutrition. She believes she could use that in the dance studio and finds it useful to have a degree.

With a crazy, hectic schedule, McKaela doesn’t have much time for hobbies, but finds ways to be creative by sewing. She is also strong in her faith and writes Bible verses in her pointe shoes to help keep her confident.

McKaela is feeling incredibly confident in her performance for L’Automne. She will be the main dancer and finds this to be one of her most relatable roles. “I really like the role because it is similar to who I am as a person, which is really cool,” said McKaela.

L’Automne, an intimate evening of music, contemporary and classical dance will be held on Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Warehouse Theatre. Times are 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. It is sponsored by Charles Wofford and Nancy B. Thomas. General admission is $35 and seats can be reserved. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door and there is a 20 percent discount for veterans.

• About the author: Georgia Gay is a senior at North Greenville University.




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