No parents and no teachers were allowed at a closed audition last winter in Seattle, with a summer trip to New York City and intensive lessons from the famed Joffrey Ballet School at stake.
Bellingham teens Abigail Carr, Hannah Gaven and Kennedy Faris have each other, however, and that was all it took on that intense day. That, and more than a decade of lessons for each girl at The Dance Studio.
Brittany Setter, the studio's owner, said fewer than 1 in 20 girls qualify on a national basis for Joffrey's Ballet Intensive summer programs.
"We like to prepare them, then let our babies fly," she said. "We couldn't be prouder and more excited for them."
The girls have flown, all right. They're making their first visits to New York City for eight hours of lessons over 10 weekdays from July 8-19.
Abigail and Hannah also will study and perform in Finland for two weeks in August in an unrelated venture they and six other girls earned by auditioning at The Dance Studio.
Abigail, the "big sister" of the trio, turns 15 on Aug. 7 and will be a sophomore at Squalicum High. Hannah, 14, will be a freshman at Sehome; Kennedy, 13, will be in eighth grade at Fairhaven Middle School.
Question: Abby, was this your first big audition?
Abigail: It was the first audition for all three of us. But I thought we might as well try.
Hannah: Abby talked to Kennedy and me and we all decided we wanted to try. We were all a little nervous, but after we started we felt OK.
Kennedy: I just thought it might be a good experience for all of us.
Q: How long did the suspense last?
Abigail: We waited two weeks until they notified us. I was just super excited. I just kept trying to forget about it for two weeks. I wasn't even sure how many girls they would take from the 50 or so who tried out with us.
Hannah: Some of the girls came out for the audition in their Joffrey leotards and I thought, "Oh, no!" But it really helped to have the three of us together so we could share the feelings.
Kennedy: I knew even if I didn't make it, I would be happy for Abby and Hannah.
Q: Did you feel prepared?
Abigail: Our senior ballet instructor, Heather Morse, has been teaching all of us for years. We were ready. I don't think our parents minded not being there. We really don't have "dance moms."
Hannah: We have 11/2-hour technique classes. We had basically done all the same kind of combinations asked of us at the audition. We really felt we knew the moves.
Kennedy: It's not just about getting into Joffrey. It's about going into that room with confidence and feeling prepared.
Q: What else would you like to do in New York City?
Abigail: I'm hoping to see a couple of Broadway musical shows, including "Wicked."
Hannah: We have tickets for performances at the American Ballet Theatre.
Kennedy: There are so many museums in New York City! That's what I'm also looking forward to.
Q: Will you keep dancing?
Abigail: I plan to keep doing it through high school and then teach ballet while I'm in college. The Dance Studio has taught me to work hard and really learn to focus.
Kennedy: I want to keep dancing through high school. I love it.
Hannah: I'll stick with dancing for many years. I definitely want to keep doing it through high school.
Q: Brittany, how long have you sent dancers to auditions for prestigious programs?
Setter: Just two or three years now. It's still new for us. We want our students to have the chance to experience different opportunities during the summers.
Abigail: We all want to thank Brittany for encouraging us. She means so much to all of us.
Michelle Nolan is a Bellingham freelance writer.