Determination brings Clio Flikkema to the top
By Elly Cain
“95 percent of what it takes to be successful is the determination, the self-discipline [and] the drive.” This is how Andrew Needhammer, dance program coordinator of Northern Arizona University (NAU) Community Music and Dance Academy, describes ballet. Clio Flikkema, Needhammer’s student of eight years, is an epitome of this strategy of success. She took her first ballet class at the age of three, and is now preparing for the prestigious Adeline Genee International Ballet Competition organized by the Royal Academy of Dance, which will take place in New Zealand this December.
According to Needhammer, Flikkema was not always the most talented or natural dancer through her training, but said, “There’s a passion, or some drive that makes them want to do it and get better, because it takes a lot of time developing these skills . . . But also, she really stuck to it . . . It takes determination,” Needhammer said.
Flikkema began studying with the Royal Academy of Dance curriculum at NAU Community Music and Dance Academy at the age of seven. After continuing with Needhammer as her instructor through high school, she will begin attending Wellesley College in the fall of 2013. She is currently working as a trainee at Sarasota Ballet in Florida.
The Lumberjack had the opportunity to ask Flikkema about her journey as a dancer and her preparation for her upcoming international competition.
Flikkema overcame difficulty by using self-motivation and determination to follow what she is passionate about. She said, “It has never come easily to me. I have had to work extremely hard to keep my technique up to the level it needs to be. Fortunately, I had many glorious moments and triumphs that make up for it.”
Needhammer described Flikkema as a very determined, self-motivated dancer. However, there are always challenges for her to overcome as a dancer.
“When I am tired or sore, or discouraged, often all it takes is a moment to refocus.” Flikkema said. What she struggles with most is comparing herself to others. She mentions it is more productive on bettering herself rather than focuses on extreme competition.
The Genee Competition is something Flikkema has been dreaming about for years. It is the culmination of years of training in the Royal Academy of Dance and is extremely fulfilling for someone who has always aspired to be a professional dancer. She has not always believed she could make it to the professional level, which is why this is such an important personal milestone. It has taken hard work to get to the point that she is now, doing what she is passionate about for a job.
Flikemma says, “I was never the best, I don’t think of myself as particularly talented. I never expected to have this chance, and it’s a wonderful reward for the hard work I’ve put in over the years.”
Preparing for this competition is extremely intense and began for both Flikkema and Needhammer early this summer. Flikkema rehearses for hours every day in addition to attending her daily classes to further culminate her technique. Flikkema dances from 9 to 5 every day, and finishes her evenings with extra cardiovascular training, pilates and stretching. She also must mentally prepare by maintaining her focus and staying positive.
Flikkema is focused on performing to the best of her ability in this competition, and she also hopes to enjoy herself, improve and learn everything she can from the distinguished guest teachers.
Flikkema says, “I’m not thinking about making finals or medals, I just want to do the best I possibly can.”
In Needhammer’s perspective, Flikkema’s journey is especially interesting, even to the average person who has no knowledge of ballet or dance.
“She comes from a small town like Flagstaff,” Needhammer said. “And she has worked very hard . . . in any field, if anyone works hard and pursues it, they should be able to become successful to a certain level. Clio’s interesting because she just worked really hard at it. She wasn’t the most likely candidate in the beginning, but she wound up being a very likely candidate for someone to be a professional dancer.”
Needhammer believes Flikkema will be a successful dancer in the future because of her attitude and continuing to accept the challenges as they come.
“She doesn’t expect it to be easy, but with that kind of attitude and that approach, really the sky could be the limit for her,” Needhammer said. “She is constantly doing things I don’t think she would be able to do, but she’s amazing.”
To follow Clio Flikkema’s efforts to prepare for the Adeline Genee International Ballet Competition, or to donate to her New Zealand journey, visit her blog at genee2012.wordpress.com.