Mindy Study's "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" essay will probably be a bit more exciting than her classmates' this fall.
While the rest of East Middle School's seventh-graders were sunning at Ocean City or trekking through the mountains, Mindy was dancing for crowds in the United Kingdom.
"I loved it," the Silver Run 12-year-old said of her two-week trip to England, Scotland and Wales with the Hanover (Pa.) Children's Ballet and Theatre Company.
The troupe is the nonprofit performing arm of the Hanover School of Ballet.
From June 23 to July 7, the 18-member troupe performed 10 times for audiences as diverse as school groups and the international crowd of visitors to the Bournemouth Music Makers Festival in England.
The annual 15-day Bournemouth festival featured choral groups, bands and other performers from the United States, Sweden, Norway and Singapore this year.
"We had six or seven performances on our schedule," said the company's director, Deborah Blume-Byers.
"But people saw us, liked us, and we booked some performances while we were there."
The girls got to meet, talk and dance with British youngsters their own age.
"Some of the kids have dance as a mandatory class, like math," Mindy said. "I sure wish we had that here at home."
They squeezed in visits to sites such as Madame Tussaud's famous wax museum, Windsor Castle and the Hard Rock Cafe.
"The first day, we started sightseeing and then we had two performances the next day," Mindy said. "Then, we started sightseeing again." The girls' work began long before they left home. In addition to earning their way, the students practiced long hours in the studio to perfect their dances in the 45-minute show, "Love in Any Language."
Mindy's practice schedule involves about four hours an evening in the fall and more intense practices in the summer, she said.
From 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., the girls learn the Soviet Vaganova style of ballet mixed with Ms. Blume-Byers' creative sense of movement.
"It's hard, but I like it," said Mindy, who earns A's and B's in school. "I just fit [my homework] in."
Ms. Blume-Byers said, "School comes first, and ballet theater comes second."
Mindy has followed dance since she watched a ballet on television at the age of 4.
"It was probably 'The Nutcracker' with Baryshnikov," said Mindy. "As I watched it on TV, I said to my Mom that I wanted to do that.
"My major goal is to stay in dance as long as I can."
Mindy said her favorite dances involve adages and developpees, the controlled movements that demand precision and discipline as the dancer slowly lifts and unfolds her leg.
One of Mindy's favorite memories from her trip is staying at a bed-and-breakfast on a Scottish farm. The owner, known as Harry to the girls, celebrated his birthday during the troupe's stay.
"We gave him a birthday card and signed it, 'Your American friends, The Hanover Children's Ballet Theatre & Company," Mindy said.
"He started to cry and said he'd frame it. . . . That felt really great."
This trip wasn't the first time Mindy, the daughter of Wendy and Richard Study, has danced abroad.
She traveled to Romania, Bulgaria and the former Soviet Union with the troupe in 1990.