OLDS — There’s little time for 10-year-old Ava Rauw to rest after performing with the Young Canadians during the Calgary Stampede.
Already, she’s gearing up to audition Aug. 25 for the troupe’s 2022 edition.
“She goes for her audition at the end of August, because they have to audition every year, so yeah, we’ll see what happens for next year,” her mom Carol said during an interview.
“I think now that her first grandstand (performance) is under her belt and this will be her third year going into the Young Canadians, I think that she’s pretty excited.”
Ava was first chosen to sing and dance with the Young Canadians back in 2019 and participated in a couple of performances since then. But this year marked the first time she’s ever participated in the group’s performances on the grandstand during Stampede, which ran from July 9-18 this year.
She had been rehearsing with the group to perform on the grandstand in 2020 but the Stampede was cancelled that year, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
During an interview, Ava admitted she was pretty nervous, seeing all those faces in the crowd during opening night on July 9.
“It was really nerve-wracking and exciting,” she said.
But after that first performance, her nerves went away. She’s looking forward to dancing and singing with the group next year, if she passes the audition.
“It’s fun,” she said. “There's a lot of shows you get to perform in and you get to be at the grandstand.”
Carol said lots of friends and family – maybe 10 people or more, from as far as Saskatchewan – came out to see Ava’s performances on various nights.
She and her husband Dustan were proud and excited to see Ava perform.
“They worked really, really hard over this past challenging year,” Carol said.
“And it was just really neat and exciting to see all of the kids’ hard work show up on that stage that first opening night and then watching it just slowly improve and get better every night that they performed it.”
Carol said normally Young Canadians officials don’t allow parents to help out; they obtain other volunteers for that job.
However, due to COVID, there was a shortage of those people, so she got an opportunity to assist and keep a close eye on Ava and how she was dealing with all the pressure and nerves.
The weather got really hot, especially the week before the Stampede.
Carol said during the day that week it got so hot that rehearsals were moved into the grandstand building.
"We were watching them very closely for heat exhaustion, heat stroke, making sure they were drinking lots of water, getting some electrolytes into their system,” she said.
However, by opening night, it cooled off to the point where the temperature was “perfect.”
The troupe rehearsed with masks on, but those restrictions were lifted by opening night.
“They had to wear masks in the changing rooms, but just before they went on-stage they took their masks off, so we got to see their beautiful smiles and watch them sing,” Carol said.