Courtney Shealy of Shalimar first laced up her ballet shoes at the young age of 5.



She joined Northwest Florida Ballet Academie as soon as they would take her, in third grade. Now a 10th-grade student, Courtney excels in the elite Pre-Professionals Program.



Her crowning moment so far was her third place win in the Young America Grand Prix for the senior classical division. She is now headed to New York along with two of her classmates for the YAGP finals in April.



“I love dance,” she said. “I’m living my dream. I can’t imagine my life without ballet.”



Students like Courtney in the Pre-Professionals Program, a high-school extended program offered by the Northwest Florida Ballet Acadamie, are preparing for the upcoming production, “Todd Eric Allen’s The New Works Project.” The production will feature original compositions created by local choreographers.



Show times are 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21; 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22; and  2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23.