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Home for holidays will have to be Point Roberts for Delta dancer

Professional dancer Madelaine Burnett doesn't want to cross the border as she awaits for her artist visa to continue to work in New York.
Tsawwassen's Madelaine Burnett is making good on her childhood dreams of pursuing dance as a career, and is doing so in New York City.

At Christmastime this year, Madelaine Burnett will be so near, yet so far.

The ballet and modern dancer from Tsawwassen, who trained at Deas Island Dance, then made it in New York, can’t come home for the holidays because leaving the U.S., could complicate her attempts to get an artist’s visa.

So instead, she’ll fly from New York to Seattle and catch a small plane to Point Roberts where her family will gather during the holidays.

“It’s kind of a crazy travel arrangement,” she said.

Burnett first went to New York in 2015 after landing a scholarship spot with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre where she studied for three years. She then studied the teaching of dance for two years, while also performing as a soloist for Graham 2 dance company, all under a student visa.

Most recently, until August, she was on a one-year work visa during which she performed as a soloist with Alison Cook Beatty Dance in New York.

That visa expired and she hasn’t worked since, as she awaits word on her application for a three-year artist’s visa.

“I have so many things going for me and I was kind of feeling at the top of the world with all these incredible opportunities, solo performances abroad even, and yet we’re at a standstill now, waiting,” she said.

But for Burnett – she cannot – not dance, so she’s still taking classes and rehearsing on her own. 

“I continue dancing, (unpaid) because I need to for my own enjoyment and mental health and everything,” she said. “It’s very fulfilling for me as an artist.”

Her current group, Alison Cook Beatty Dance, visits small communities with outreach performances that are aimed at topical issues. The group’s next performance is about suicide awareness.

Last summer, she had the solo performance in the troupe’s Echoes of War, a tribute to Ukraine.

The group’s work is all dedicated to life events.

“I love dancing, but I want to be able to do good for the world at the same time as do what I love for myself,” she said.

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