With just two days to go before embarking on a nationwide ballet company tour, the cast, including Kamilah Sturton, was feeling the deep burn of a week-long rehearsal burst.
Sturton, having given up six non-dancing jobs to get back into the World of professional ballet, was understandably buzzing with anticipation.
She left the stage that day last November with no inclination of anything amiss. It was later, when the adrenalin had drained off and the heart rate had slowed, that it became clear all was not well.
Unbeknown to her at the time, Sturton had ruptured her soleus muscle (runs from the calf to the Achilles).
It was a tour-ending injury and one that she was told would rule the multi-talented 21-year-old Richmondite out of ballet for eight long months.
“I guess I was lucky it wasn’t the Achilles; that would have probably ended my career,” said Sturton, a grad of St. Joseph the Worker, MacNeill and Magee secondaries and a product of the Richmond Academy of Dance.
Her gamble, of sorts, had backfired and the stage trap door had well and truly swallowed up the talented dancer.
Unable to work and back living with her parents in Terra Nova, Sturton spent the entire festive period nursing her injury and putting off facing up to what to do for the best part of 2013.
It was only when the dust settled after the holidays – and not wanting to wallow in self pity - that she dug out a piece of paper that would change her life forever.
“When I worked for Ivivva Athletica (Lululemon’s junior line) as an assistant designer, we set a series of 10, five and one year goals,” explained Sturton.
“My five-year goal was to enter Miss Universe Canada. Not because I wanted a crown and a sash, but I had brainstormed ways I wanted to make a difference and be heard on a larger scale.
“I thought to myself, ‘let’s get going on this.’”
Pondering a serious injury that may have happened for a reason, Sturton immediately contacted Miss Universe Canada – only to find out she’d missed the cut-off date by more than a month and the 15 delegates to represent Western Canada had already been chosen out of 200 applicants.
But just when it seemed another door was closing, Lady Luck smiled in her direction when one of the 15 unexpectedly pulled out.
“They asked if I’d come into North Vancouver for an interview with the Beauties of Canada board,” said Sturton. “After the interview, they asked me to go outside for a second. When I was asked back into the room, they offered me the spot.
“I accepted and then spent the rest of the drive back to Richmond wondering what I just got myself into.”
Now, all roads for Sturton lead to Toronto on May 19, when she will compete against 59 of Canada’s most attractive and talented young women during a packed week of public appearances, judging panel interviews and stage presentations.
It’s a path she never, in her wildest dreams, thought she’d tread.
“This is a whole other world that’s very unfamiliar to me,” said Sturton, who’s impressive resume boasts “ Team Canada dance choreographer” and “international competition judge.”
“Yes, I’m used to performing on stage in front of audiences, but I’m not and never have been a pageant girl and I would actually like to break down that pageant stereotype.
“I’m going there with a fresh attitude as I’m not a stick-thin Barbie doll. I’m 5 feet four inches tall and I very much believe it’s what you do with what you have that counts.”
It’s that same alternative approach to the national event that led Sturton to choose the charities she hopes will benefit from her publicity.
“The charities I chose are a little different, but that’s the whole idea,” said Sturton, who’s already in training for Toronto and has attended several charity events as a Miss Universe delegate.
She’s also working day and night to raise the near $5,000 trip she needs to take part in the final, with any surplus funds going to Operation Smile (which carries out medical procedures for children in developing countries) and the Canadian Cancer Society.
And when she has the judges’ undivided attention in Toronto, she will be bending their ears on the arts in the education system and healthy living for Canadian youth — in the form of nutrition and physical activity.
As well as accepting donations, Sturton is planning on holding fundraising events in the coming weeks and months.
“I am excited about the event, but unfortunately finances do come into play and I’m hoping for some community support,” she added.
“I’ll be having some kind of event in Richmond soon, I just have to figure out what that will be and where.”
You can donate to or sponsor Sturton at http://www.gofundme.com/21rp88.