A local girl's dreams are one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to a chance encounter on a plane.
That 12-year-old's only dance training has been near her hometown of Trenton, MO. That is until she got up close and personal with principal dancers at the New York City Ballet.
Emily Kasinger spends five hours after school at least three days a week working on her technique.
"I'm usually here 20 to 24 hours a week," she said.
But the 12-year-old knows school is important too and had mostly "As" to prove it.
"I try to work in the car or I stay up late or I might wake up in the mornings even because I'm so tired," Kasinger said.
After all, it was school that provided the first step in her journey by way of the Adopt-a-Pilot program.
Southwest Airlines pilots like Gary Hooyman provide aviation-based lessons on math and science, but Hooyman takes it a step further.
"We're trying to get our students to dream big dreams," he said.
Hooyman has his kids write essays on their dreams. He then reads those essays to passengers, seeking letters of support.
"Professional dancer or dance instructor by Emily," Kasinger said. "Build strong muscles and have the patience to practice over and over."
But Kasinger's essay got her more than just a letter. That is because unbeknownst to the pilot a woman connected to the New York City Ballet was on board.
"I've traveled a lot in my life and I have never ever experienced a pilot doing anything like this," said NYC Ballet Gala Co-Chairman Andrea Spungen.
Spungen was impressed and so was the co-chair for this year's New York City Ballet Gala. She gave Kasinger an invitation to learn from principal dancers at the New York City Ballet and go backstage at the gala.
"I was jumping up and down, and my teacher was super psyched for me too," the girl said.
Kasinger's dance teacher can see the change in the already dedicated dancer.
"There's just kind of a greater understanding of 'oh I get it, I get what we're doing here in class,'" said Ballet Arts Center for Dance owner Teresa Foli. "She really has a lot of talent . . . It's the drive and the vision and the belief that you can do it."
Her teachers said she's more skilled, more motivated, but just as practical as before.
"If I absolutely cannot make it to Broadway or to become a professional ballerina, then I'd really like to be a good dance teacher like my dance teacher Teresa," Kasinger said.
But she's still reaching for the stars.
"I'm going to work harder at my goal and hopefully I will get to be where they are some day," she said.
Southwest Airlines put together a seven-minute film on Kasinger's journey.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 3:29 PM EDT2013-05-21 19:29:04 GMT
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