Melike Konur was 13 when her mother saw the Kennedy Center ad. Debbie Allen, the dancer and choreographer of "Fame" fame, was holding auditions for a program she was producing. Melike, who had been dancing since age 3, was impressed but not enough to spend long hours away from her Leesburg home, rehearsing with strangers.

So her mother lured her there under false pretenses. "I knew she'd love this if she gave it a chance," Valerie Konur said, "so I told her we'd just see what this audition was like and we'd have plenty of time to get to the other audition that day, which was a lie."

They arrived to find 400 other young hopefuls. Melike was certain she couldn't get a part, which suited her fine, but as the choreographer began to teach the audition piece, she discovered that it was lyrical jazz, her favorite form.

A few hours later, she was among the small group of finalists. "There were 10 professionals all lined up to look us over," Melike recalled. "I recognized some of them. I couldn't believe it. Choreographers, a vocal director, the artistic director and then there was Debbie Allen. And it was, like, oh my gosh, this is Debbie Allen!"

Valerie Konur rolled her eyes. "I told her!" she said.

It has been like that for Melike Konur, now 15 and back from an intensive two-week summer course with the New York City Dance Alliance and preparing with fellow students at the Loudoun School of Ballet for a performance Sunday in Ida Lee Park. As she learns to dance, she is learning by degrees how far she is willing to push herself to do it.

In New York, for example, there was the matter of the bathtub at the West End YMCA, where she headed "home" exhausted each night after class. "The beds were comfortable, so I got my rest. The bathtub was just disgusting," she recalled, her face contorted. "You couldn't even think of lying down in that thing. You'd come home from 12 hours of sweating, and you had to face that bathtub.

"It was just -- eeuw, I never felt clean," she said.

But she is glad she went.

"I think I'm a lot stronger now, and I've seen what's out there," she said. "I really enjoyed doing different types of dance and training with different choreographers and teachers." What's out there is a more pressured performance atmosphere, "and the costumes -- shew, they were different! Very risque{acute}."

The road to New York began at the Loudoun School of Ballet with ballet training under Sheila Hoffman-Robertson, who emphasized both the art and discipline of dance. At the next level, ballet mistress Maureen Miller encouraged her students to audition for "Summer Intensives," programs designed by professional troupes to develop young talent.

Melike began auditioning every spring with such companies as the Joffrey, the Houston Ballet, the Kirov and American Ballet Theatre. The summer she was 12, she was accepted by each one for which she auditioned, but an injury sidelined her. The next season, her mother tricked her into the Kennedy Center audition.

Rehearsals for Debbie Allen's "Dreams" took five hours every day except Sunday, followed by a month of shows at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theatre. Later that fall, Allen chose several members of the cast to perform a portion of "Dreams" at a fundraiser for a performing arts center. That's how Melike came to dance at New York's Town Hall.

By then, Melike was exploring further, adding modern ballet and lyrical jazz classes to her dance schedule. "I like things that aren't cut and dried," she said. "Doesn't matter what body type you have. The technique has to be there, of course, but it's all strength. It's very free and emotional."

Sharon Mercke, who teaches modern dance and jazz at the school, says Melike has "tremendous promise." Last summer, when she was accepted for intensives with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the New York City Dance Alliance, the alliance won because it provided student housing, an important consideration for parents of a 15-year-old spending two weeks in New York.

The two-week course focused not only on dance techniques but also on voice training and ended with a recital. The staff members, all professionals, were principals in such dance companies as the New York City Ballet or had parts in Broadway shows. One teacher was the central Rockette at Radio City Music Hall. "The center dancer," Melike said, "is the best."

For Melike, trying new dance forms was a pleasure, but she was apprehensive about voice lessons. She scored higher than anybody in Loudoun on the sixth-grade standardized musical aptitude test but had never studied formally. When the vocal instructor walked in and asked students for their sheet music, Melike confessed that she didn't have any.

"Well, what do you know?" the teacher asked.

"I was just in a community theater production of 'Fame,' " Melike replied tentatively.

"Really. Well, I produced 'Fame' on Broadway," said the instructor, JoLynn Burke.

Melike sang three songs for her, and Burke placed her in the highest vocal class.

For Melike and 49 other students, the next 13 days looked like this: 6 a.m., breakfast; 8:30 a.m., walk to City Center Studios for rehearsal from 9 a.m. to noon; 1 p.m., return to the studio and dance until 4:30 or 5 p.m.

Students with solo parts -- Melike had both a vocal and a ballet solo -- rehearsed until 9 p.m. Their dinner was brought in.

Alliance director Joe Lanteri said Melike demonstrated "a tremendous versatility. . . . It becomes the job of every dancer to adapt to each choreographer's needs, so the more diverse they are, the more employable they become. She's on a path of developing all her talents, and it will really pay off."

Next summer, Melike plans to try out again for the Alvin Ailey intensive. Beyond that, it's too soon to know, she said.

"Sure," she said, when asked whether her aspirations include Broadway, "but I'm not ready. . . . See, when you're in a show, you miss so much school you wind up with a tutor. Then you miss your teenage years, school and friends. The teachers encourage us to go on to college, to always have something to fall back on, in case you're injured.

"And it would be too hard to do college and professional dance. You pretty much have to choose."

In the meantime, she said, it's enough to love what she's doing, which includes studies at Loudoun County High School and more than 10 hours of dance classes a week.

"It's not about how many pirouettes you can do," she said, "how flexible you are, how pretty you are, your body type, your age, just as long as you have the passion and love for it. As long as you're willing to do the work, put in the effort. If you have that, anybody can do it. Anybody can dance."

Jazz and Company Dance of the Loudoun School of Ballet will perform modern and jazz ballet numbers at 11:30 a.m. Sunday on the main stage at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg. Admission is free. The park's Sunday program of family entertainment begins at 11 a.m. and includes dance presentations, children's activities and crafts and a "People and Pet Walk" and contest. For more information, call 703-777-1368.

Melike Konur, right, works on a routine with fellow student Katie McWilliam at the Loudoun School of Ballet.Melike, 15, has been dancing since she was 3 years old. According to one of her modern dance and jazz teachers, she has "tremendous promise."