A Wanganui dancer is on the road to the big time after being selected for a prestigious ballet programme.
Annabel McMahon, 10, is one of a handful of dancers selected from throughout New Zealand for the New Zealand School of Dance's Scholars Programme.
Annabel is in her fourth year of dance at the Wanganui Ballet and Dance Academy, where she learns both classical ballet and modern dance. She takes five classes a week.
She said she enjoys dance because it is "nice, it's relaxing".
Annabel has dreams of becoming a professional dancer when she grows up and being accepted into the Scholars Programme is the first step towards making that happen.
Her dance teacher, Anna Chandulal, said the Scholars Programme is for children aged 10-13 who show real promise in dance. Acceptance is by audition only.
"They look not only at performance and technique but also at the child's physique. Fortunately, Annabel has an excellent physique for a dancer," Ms Chandulal said.
"She's also hard-working and intelligent, and she takes instruction well."
Ms Chandulal said being part of the programme would be very beneficial.
"Students are able to foster relationships within the school, and the training really lifts the students' performance."
Students travel to Wellington twice every term to work with the New Zealand School of Dance's teachers. Annabel's first trip to Wellington will be this Saturday.
Ms Chandulal said the next step up was the Associate Programme, for dancers aged 13-16.
"This is really a feeder programme into the New Zealand School of Dance, which is training to be a professional dancer."
Annabel's mother Samantha said she was "excited and proud" that her daughter had been chosen for the Scholars Programme. "But I'm not at all surprised. She's always does well in her exams - she's a distinction student."
Mrs McMahon also takes ballet classes at the Wanganui Ballet and Dance Academy.