Joplin dance student Kaylee Smith makes the jump to Las Vegas

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JOPLIN, Mo. — From the time the sun rises in the morning, to when it sets in the evening, Kaylee Smith is doing one thing: dance.

Kaylee is on Joplin High School’s dance team and practice starts at 6 a.m.

Then, after school, she heads to Karen’s Dance Studio where she assists with dance classes for younger students, and then jumps into classes of her own.

Smith says, Joplin senior dancer, says, “It’s a lot, but I love it. It’s really fun. It keeps me going throughout the day. I don’t know what I would do if I took a break or something, or I couldn’t do it anymore.”

Her dedication to dancing has landed her a spot in the Theater Arts Preparatory School, or TAPS, in Las Vegas.

Smith says, “I’ve always really known I wanted dance in my life somehow, so when I found out about TAPS when I was 11, I was set on that and I’ve been set on it for a really long time.”

Nicole Amayo, Karen’s Dance Studio Owner, says, “It’s a program based on making connections through the industry, learning how the industry works currently, in terms of auditions and submissions and how that all works, because that’s constantly changing.”

Just like there are dance routines Kaylee practices, there’s a routine schedule, every day filled with dance, and every day tapping one step further to becoming a professional dancer.

Bryson Hines, Joplin High School head dance team coach, says, “I would say her work ethic is great. I think she’s doing a great job of handling it all and preparing herself for her future where she’ll be dancing every day for hours at a time.”

Amayo says, “Having a strong passion and dedication to something like Kaylee does have for dance can just be so inspirational. She’ll take all the tools that she has at the studio and all of her other performing and competitive experiences in dance, she’ll take all those things and make a really fantastic professional career out of it.”

The hardest part of Kaylee’s journey is not the time commitment or the physical demands of dancing for hours a day– it’s the doubt.

Smith says, “The doubt that comes with going such a far place, the doubt that comes with that is definitely heavy, but I don’t listen to my doubts and I know what I can do and I know what I can pursue and what I’m gonna work for, and so as long as I know that I can work for it, I know I can do it.”

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