Collingwood teen chasing Cirque du Soleil dream in Montreal

A Collingwood, Ont. teen is soon heading to Montreal to chase her dream as a contemporary circus performer.

Clara Alex, 17, is one of only 25 people in the world to be accepted into the National Circus School – better known as the École nationale de cirque.

The school works closely with Cirque du Soleil and has trained hundreds of performing artists for more than 30 years.

Alex currently trains with the Collingwood Circus Club.

"The dream is to be in Cirque du Soleil; it has been since I started circus," Alex said. "It's one of the best companies, one of the biggest companies with some of the most amazing circus artists.

"When you put a lot of hours into something, and you work really hard, you want to be the best at it or one of the best."

Alex has been training for the past six years, ever since she saw a YouTube video on aerial silks.

"I was watching America's Got Talent, and there was this silk artist who was stunning," Alex said.

"I was like, 'wow, I can do that,' not knowing how hard it was or all the stuff I would need to do. I Googled if there was a place around here, and there was.

"I took my first class, it was a Thursday night, and I just remember being upside down for the first time, and I was like, 'this is amazing.'"

Tara Leslie is the head coach at The Circus Company in Collingwood, and Barrie and coaches Alex.

"To get to this level of circus it takes a lot of drive, a lot of training and self-motivation," Leslie said.

"From the very first class with Clara, I saw a keen interest, the drive and focus. You could see the spark in her eye and in her mind that this was her thing."

Leslie said everyone was proud to see her accepted into the National Circus School.

"We are very excited for her, and it's a huge step. It's an amazing school, and it really propels your career in circus," Leslie said. "Her goal is to do Cirque du Soleil one day, and she's on track for that."

Alex has a strong social media presence which she has used to promote her work in circus. She can be found on Instagram @circusclara.

Alex will move to Montreal in the fall to begin her three-year program.