Glendale Newspress June ’05

News-Press and Leader
Published July 6, 2005

A special case in Pointe
By Darleene Barrientos

Taking a trip to Austria is exciting enough, but for several California Dance Arts ballet students, the journey will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Nine students from the La Canada Flintridge-based academy, along with owner and director Erin Holt, will fly to Austria Friday for this year’s Salzburg International Ballet Academy Summer Intensive. The workshop will be from July 11 to Aug. 6.

The thought of learning directly from ballet giants like Peter Breuer, principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre, the London Festival Ballet and the Munich Ballet; Yehuda Maor, former teacher of the Royal Ballet of London; and Maya Plisetskaya, an international ballet star, is cause for more than just a little anxiety and excitement for 17-year-old dancer Gioel Enriquez. “I’m so excited, I started packing three weeks in advance,” he said. Each of the students, plus a host of ballerinas from all around the country, auditioned at California Dance Arts last spring for a chance to study classical ballet, pointe, modern dance and the Maor Placement Technique, a method to develop strength and flexibility. Holt, who is certified to teach the Maor Placement Technique, will also be one of the featured instructors during the intensive.

“It’s an opportunity for dancers to travel … but it’s also a nice working, educational experience for pre-professional and professional dancers, to improve and go to the next level,” Holt said. Besides learning from some of ballet’s biggest names, the intensive might also be a chance to dance professionally. Breuer, director of the Salzburg International Ballet Academy, intends to choose dancers from this summer intensive for his new touring company, the Salzburg Ballet Ensemble.

Most of Holt’s students selected for the intensive are 18 or younger, but many of them, like 16-year-old Kamissa Marshall of Sunland, have been dancing since they were 4. The dancers’ parents are encouraging and sometimes over the top, 13-year-old Jesse Wilson said. “They’re excited for us, sometimes more excited than we are,” Jesse said. “They tell all their friends, and it’s kind of embarrassing.”

The trip is exciting already for Kamissa, but the thought of possibly be selected for the Salzburg Ballet Ensemble is an overwhelming one. “I don’t even know,” Kamissa said with wide eyes. “If it did happen, I would definitely consider it.”