Tiny tot Breanna Drummond had a rough start when she was born eight weeks premature, with five holes in her heart.

Having had two surgeries as a baby, this month the teen, now 15, will represent New Zealand in one of the world's most prestigious ballet competitions - the Youth America Grand Prix, in New York.

More than 8000 people from 45 countries applied to compete in the ballet contest.

Breanna has been a fighter since the day she was born, says her mum, Karyn Drummond.


"There weren't very good odds for her to survive the first operation, so [Breanna's father] Dean and I were given the choice of whether or not to go through with it."

Breanna survived not one, but two surgeries in 2000 and 2001.

She was fed through a tube until she was 10 months old, and weighed less than 4.5kg.

At the same age, her twin brother Finn was almost double her size.

But she came right and by age 5 she was the same height as her peers and developing well - surprising her doctors and her own parents.

"That's just Bree," Karyn said.

Since she was just 2 years old, Breanna has been obsessed with ballet, having been given a Barbie in the Nutcracker DVD as a gift.

In a photo of her as a 14-month-old in the Herald, Breanna is pointing her toes - a sign of things to come, Mrs Drummond thinks.

After watching the cartoon, Breanna said to her mum, "what's that?"

"I told her it was ballet, and she said 'me go', and that was it for Bree," Mrs Drummond said.

"We took her to her first ballet class when she was 3."

The 15-year-old former Westlake Girls High School pupil is now doing school by correspondence in the evenings so she can focus on dancing during her days.

"Dean and I ask her 'are you sure you want to keep going' all the time," Mrs Drummond said. "But she's never looked back."

This month, Breanna and Mrs Drummond will fly to New York for the competition, taking with them six pairs of ballet shoes (Breanna goes through a pair a week) and costumes for two different routines.

She will compete against about 100 other dancers, between April 22 and 29.

A Gold Heart Scholarship from Variety The Children's Charity has helped pay for the trip - which costs about $8000.

Breanna's heart is monitored annually but had never again been a problem for her, Mrs Drummond said.

The teen takes it in her stride, as she gracefully pirouettes her way across the floor of the historic Hobsonville Community Hall en route to New York.