Dakota Corbie was two years old when she asked her mother to let her learn to dance.
“From that moment, I knew she was serious about it,” said her mother, Rebecca Corbie.
Still too young to be placed in dance lessons, Dakota started taking classes at the age of three. The now nine-year-old has since danced in recitals, local and international competitions.
Dakota learned to dance at Tehilah Training Centre, Tunapuna, under the watchful eye of her instructor Sharlene Calliste, as well as at Spirit Academy in Diego Martin.
Her mother says after her first solo performance with Spirit Academy, at age seven, her confidence soared. She placed second in the competition. "It makes me feel free," Dakota told Newsday Kids in an interview. Dance, she said, helps to bring out her creative side and she sees herself continuing as a dancer as she gets older.
Dakota would watch popular US talent show Dancing with the Stars with her mother, who was not surprised she chose to dance competitively like the celebrities. She and her family live in Tunapuna.
Her dance teacher at Tehilah said she has performed in many concerts and recitals and picks up the steps quickly. “She’s very quiet and attentive and takes direction very well,” said Calliste.
Dakota trains as a junior in modern, jazz and ballet and completed grade two of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance, one of the world’s leading dance examination boards. She said jazz is her favourite style of dance and she would someday like to try tap dancing.
Her teacher said, if she so desires, Dakota can continue with dance all the way to tertiary level. “She will have doors open for her,” said Calliste.
Dakota first performed at an international competition three years ago at the Nexstar talent competition in Orlando, Florida where she won gold.
She also travelled to New York in 2018 with her teacher, who arranged for her to experience dance at a higher level at a dance studio in Brooklyn, which she quite enjoyed. She spent two weeks learning from more experienced dancers in ballet and modern dance. Her time in New York was amazing. "I really believe I was born to dance," she said. She did not have the opportunity to visit Broadway, but looks forward to going back in the future.
Dakota also had the opportunity earlier this year, before the borders closed because of the covid19 pandemic, to dance at the Dance Team Union nationals in Miami, where she and her team danced with the Miami Dolphins' cheerleaders. "I would also like to visit Europe someday," she said.
As much as she loves dancing, Dakota has other dreams and wishes to pursue fashion design and gymnastics. Her technique includes a combination of dance and gymnastics.
The standard four student at Macks Private Academy, Champs Fleurs, knows there will be added pressure on her for the SEA exams in two years. She said she is a little nervous about it, but is working toward her first choice, Bishop Anstey East in Trincity.
Her mother said she balances extra-curricular activities and school very well. As for many children across TT, Dakota has classes online, and even her dance lessons are now virtual.
Even though dance is an important part of her life, her most important role is being a big sister to her seven-month-old baby sister. She said being a big sister is fantastic. "It is something I always dreamed of."