Fundraiser aims to help young local dancer attend Boston Ballet summer program

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

Xadrian Knepper started her dance journey at the age of 6, learning the art form and performing at Allegro Dance Studio in Sandpoint. She’s come a long way over the past nine years, and most recently earned an opportunity to go even further — literally and figuratively, with her acceptance to the Boston Ballet’s prestigious summer intensive program. 

“In Boston I would like to gain a better understanding of the art. Challenge myself to learn more and take risks in trying new things,” Xadrian told the Reader, adding that someday she’d like to open her own studio and teach others.

Xadrian Knepper is onto great things with her acceptance to Boston Ballet’s prestigious summer intensive program. Photo by Makaia Knepper.

To help get her on her way to the program in Boston, Xadrian’s friends and family are hosting a fundraiser Sunday, June 9 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Bluebird Bakery (329 N. First Ave., in downtown Sandpoint).

For a suggested donation of $15 a person, or $45 for a family of four, attendees will enjoy all-you-can eat soups and salads from Beet and Basil. Sunshine Goldmine, where Xadrian works part-time, is sponsoring the event, which also includes no-host beer and wine. Cash and Venmo are both accepted, and additional donations are welcomed.

Tuition and board for the five-week program runs to $6,500, with other needs like five pairs of ballet shoes, travel expenses and “things to keep the mind busy to avoid homesickness,” said Jon Knepper, Xadrian’s father. 

The estimated goal to fully fund the experience is $10,000, with $2,300 raised to date. Regardless, Xadrian’s mother, sister and grandparents are traveling with her on a cross-country motorhome trek beginning Thursday, June 17, which will get her to Boston in time for classes to start.

“Xa has spent countless hours online researching summer intensive programs. Talking with her coaches seeking their advice and direction,” Jon said. “After learning of her options, she asked to attend tryouts for various programs in Seattle late last fall. On the top of her list was Boston Ballet. Upon hearing she was selected, she then had the hard decision of how she would like to spend her summer — in Sandpoint with family and friends at the beach, or in Boston dancing six days a week including the Fourth of July.”

The choice was pretty clear for Xadrian, whose commitment to her art has already filled many of her days. In 2022, at the age of 13, she moved from Allegro Dance Studio to the Expressions School of Performing Arts (ESPA) in Post Falls. She started performing competitively with the Expressions Team X last fall, has already tried out for the next season and is a member of the Sandpoint High School dance team — all that on top of attending classes four nights a week at ESPA.

“I am grateful and excited for the opportunity to attend Boston Ballet,” Xadrian said. 

Her parents are, too. 

“We are extremely proud of her commitment to dance,” Jon said. “She sacrifices birthday parties, sleepovers, concerts and couch time to pursue her passion. We couldn’t be any happier or more excited for what’s to come.”

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