Kalia Richard – January 2019

Kalia Richard
Junior


This is your 2nd year with Gustafson Dance and your first year in SSBYD. Share with us your perspective on managing dance training and SSBYD rehearsals.


Although it is a challenge balancing high school and dance, I manage to stay organized and make dancing a priority in my life. One of the ways I can accomplish this is to stretch outside of dance while I am reading or working on other assignments. This allows me to multi task and get homework done, and have time to do what I love.


What improvements in your dance technique have you noticed?


By dancing almost every day of the week, I have been able to increase my flexibility, strengthen my point, improve my pirouettes, and my overall ability to dance.


Please tell us what you love about dance and what inspires you to dance.


I have been a dancer for almost all of my life and I have been thrilled to become a part of SSBYD. Dancing is something that I have always loved and I look forward to growing my strength as a dancer. I am very passionate about dance and I have fortunate to be able to dance at Gustafson with talented teachers.


Are there any dance roles you dream to be cast as?


I would love to be casted as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker. I think that it is a part with beautiful choreography and a role I would enjoy.





Olivia Gobbell – October 2018

Olivia Gobbell
Apprentice 2


Hi Olivia! You are performing as the Lead Elf in the production of Rudolph and are dancing as a Party Girl, Cadet, and Dolls in the Nutcracker. That is quite a lot of choreography to learn. How are you managing this many roles in addition to your dance training, school, family and friends?


I try to review with everyone else in the dance as much as possible, but when the music starts my muscle memory usually kicks in.


Moving up through SSBYD, please share with us your thoughts and experiences in this dance journey.


I’m so thankful for SSBYD and everyone in it. I have learned so much valuable information from joining it. Having lots of different teachers and working with choreographer’s has definitely been a great experience.


Do you have any dance role models?


My biggest role model is Sarah Lamb from the Royal Ballet. I just love her ease of movement on stage and the way she performs. The overall effect is magical.


What do you enjoy doing in your spare time (if you even have any!)?


One of my favorite places to be besides dance is the beach, and if I have the chance I will go with my friends whenever I can.


What is it about dance that makes you happy and to continue?


I love that when I am dancing I am fully present in the moment, not worried about the past or the future, just focused on dancing. I love performing and always look forward to it.





Senior Feature October 2018

We caught up with Chloe Babcock and Kate Dalforno, both Company Members, as they share their memories, wisdom, and future plans.


Congratulations Chloe and Kate on being chosen as SSBYD Captains for this year. Would share with us what your duties and responsibilities are as Captains?


(Chloe) – Thank you! It is very exciting! Our job is ultimately to make sure all of the SSBYD family is happy and on the same page, from company leotard decisions, group bonding activities, logistical reminders and beyond!


(Kate) – My duties and responsibilities consist of being an example to all the other dancers at the studio, acting responsibly and with kindness towards others. I am a liaison between my fellow dancers and the teachers, providing insight into what the dancers might need or want. I hope to model a positive attitude and encourage my fellow dancers. Picking out leotards, apparel, and helping make decisions is also a big responsibility since I need to consider other’s opinions while making decisions.


In your years at SSBYD, what have been your greatest challenges and greatest achievements.


(Chloe) – My greatest challenge in SSBYD has been my increased experience with advanced ballet, pointe work especially. It is something I personally struggle with and sometimes find difficult to motivate myself to work on, but having the SSBYD family to support you and cheer you on makes it much easier and more fun. I think my greatest- or most favorite- achievement in dance was last year, being cast and performing in all 3 pieces that went to RDA. It was an awesome learning experience and helped me increase my performance, and variety in the different styles.


(Kate) – Some of my biggest challenges have been not being so hard on myself as ballet, in general, tends to being about a perfectionist attitude. I have had to learn to focus on progress instead of perfection. I was humbled and honored to received Most Improved Dancer last year. I loved dancing the role of Heidi (in Rudolph). I worked really hard last hear and was excited to be chosen for Snow (Nutcracker) this year.


Do you have a special memory or two that is dear to your heart in your time with SSBYD?


(Chloe) – My all time favorite SSBYD memory was this past year at the gala dinner at RDA. My homegirl Amelia Miller and I were scoping the few empty tables to see if we could find some extra bread, because we love our carbs. Upon searching, we noticed that one of our anthems was playing over the speakers. So we paused our search and decided to dance for a bit, in the back of the ballroom while everyone else was seated with their companies. The song ended and the bread hunt was looking doubtful, but then another great song came on and we decided we had to keep dancing. This time, a few girls from our table joined us. By the next song, a few more dancers from a different company saw how much fun we were having and joined in. About 3 songs later, a solid 75 or so- maybe more- dancers were all out of their dinner seats, dancing in the back of the room together while the RDA photographer documented the special moment. Someone eventually came on the intercom and said it was time to sit back down, and everyone danced back to their seats. It was so spontaneous, fun, and lively, just like our amazing company and it is a moment I will never forget!


(Kate) – RDA holds so many special memories. It is a time when we truly get to know each other and have fun with our best friends, while at the same time, doing what we love. Performances of any kind are so fun and I have so many incredible memories. There is always laughter and fun while preparing for our shows; applying our makeup and doing our hair. Just being together is so much fun and its the people that make up the SSBYD community that will always hold a special place in my heart.


What are your plans after SSBYD and high school graduation? Will you find moving from SSBYD difficult?


(Chloe) – After SSBYD/high school graduation, I plan to go to college and continue dance in some way! Moving from SSBYD is going to be really sad, but I am excited for the next chapter of life, and know that these amazing SSBYD people will always be only a phone call away.


(Kate) – At this time, I am still unsure where I’ll be going to college. I know I have some big decisions ahead and I am excited for what the future holds. SSBYD has been such a big part of my life for so long that I know I’ll miss it. I still plan to continue dancing and I know the friendships I have made through SSBYD will continue.


What words of wisdom do you have for dancers still in the Company?


(Chloe) – Embrace new styles of dance that you aren’t yet comfortable with and find out what makes them unique. Laugh with your friends about silly costumes. Shine brighter than Rudolph’s nose. Hang out in the bathroom on breaks (when you’re not stretching or reviewing of course ;)) and give each other calf massages. Thank Allison and Nicole for all they do. Most of all, enjoy every moment, because it goes by so fast!


(Kate) – As for words of wisdom; stay humble and work hard. Cherish your SSBYD friendships and don’t be so hard on yourself. You got this!





McKenzie Goshey – October 2018

McKenzie Goshey
Junior


Hi Kenzie. You’ve been dancing at Gustafson Dance before you were 3 years old and now you are in the SSBYD Company! What are your thoughts, feelings, and concerns about dancing in the Company?


I am so so so excited to finally be dancing in the company! It has been a goal of mine for some time now and it has finally happed.


Are there any dance roles you hope to perform one day?


One day I hope to perform as Clara in the Nutcracker.


What is it about dance that makes you happy, especially when you’re tired and you poor feet are sore?


In dance there is always something to work for. Essentially you are working towards getting to the next level and keeping up. In dance you always want to improve and do one more turn than you can already do and get your developè higher than you have it. This is what keeps me going and working hard.


Would you share with us any special or ‘must have’ items in your dance bag?


In my dance bag I always have ALL my shoes and hairspray.





Persephone (Sephie) Gallegos – May 2018

I am catching up with Persephone (Sephie) Gallegos, SSBYD Company Junior Dancer, to chat about her experiences and observations.


Sephie, WOW, a Junior choreographer! Would you share with us what inspired you to choreograph your piece and what your piece represents?


What inspired me to choreograph was when I saw Chloe, Fenna, and Sophia make pieces for Adjudication. They were just phenomenal and I just wanted to start something like that in my piece. My piece represents a really modern ballet with a soft piece of music. I chose this selection because the singer’s voice is really lovely and I could just really see my dance come to life with that song.


As an SSBYD Junior, are there challenges that you are working through?


I would say one of the most challenges is just drama. It can be over the silliest thing, yet it becomes so big and affects us all as friends, dancers, and classmates. I just wish that if anything challenges us, that we work it out together as a whole. Also the dancing techniques and corrections are a little harder than last year (not dancing in SSBYD). And it is those techniques and corrections that are really helping me push through. I hope other dancers feel the same as well.


Are there future roles that you aspire to cast as?


I would love to be Giselle or Clara in future performances.


Attending RDA/Festival for the first time, what was it like for you; traveling, the classes, etc.?


RDA was amazing. The classes were fun to experience, different teachers, learning techniques and dance forms. Making many new dance friends made the experience even better. Every show was absolutely great. I was stunned on how the different Companies made incredible pieces so unique and different. After the performance,s the dinners were very delicious and it was fun to make new memories with friends. The hotel was very nicely maintained and all the staff were very nice. I can’t wait to return back to RDA next year.


Are there any special items in your dance bag that are ‘must haves’?


I would say you should always have an emergency sewing kit, first aid kit, and any personal items (extra bobby pins, hair ties, toe tape and any pointe shoe accessories).





Nina Schaeffer – May 2018

I am catching up with Nina Schaeffer, SSBYD Company Dancer, to chat about her experiences and observations.


Congratulations on your choreographed piece!! Will you share with us what inspired you to do this piece and the message of the piece?


Thank you! My inspiration for this piece comes from a need for liberation. The past months have been very difficult on our entire community and I found myself wanting to bring our dance family together in a piece where they could accept, understand, and free their pain. I also wanted them to be able to connect with each other and rise together.


What are your thoughts and emotions of this piece?


I feel so much pride when watching my fellow dancers bring this piece to life. I wanted this piece to bring the feeling that even though we have been hurt, we are still standing strong and I see that when they dance. Also, I chose a live music version because I think that this song is expressed better when raw.


As a SSBYD Company dancer, can you share your greatest challenges and achievement?


My greatest challenge is probably balancing dance life, school life, and everything else. My greatest achievement has been performing at RDA these past two years and it has been such a rewarding experience.


Please share your most memorable moments and castings in SSBYD.


One of the most memorable moments from my past years in SSBYD would have to be from this past RDA. On Gala night, after most people had finished eating, the “Party in the USA” song came on the loud speaker. Almost every Company stood up and made their way to the make-shift dance floor and we all just came together to “Party at RDA” one last time. It is a moment I will remember for a long time because the feeling of togetherness was unlike any other.


Are there ‘must items’ in your dance bag?


I always have my lucky LaCrosse ball with me so I can roll out sore muscles.





Senior Feature April 2018

Margaret Gobbell
Apprentice 1


Margaret, you are new to SSBYD. What are your thoughts about the Company and your performance experiences this year?


My first year in SSBYD has been amazing so far! I have loved the extra performances we have done and spending more time with my friends over the weekend at rehearsal.


Please share with us what has been challenging and rewarding dancing with SSBYD.


One thing that has been difficult is juggling school ,dance, and music. My homework load this year has been very heavy so I have to stay up late on weeknights to get it done or study for tests, then I go in early to school to play in the school band.


What are a few of your memorable moments in SSBYD?


Some things that have been fun is getting to eat lunch with the friends during Saturday rehearsals. It’s a time where we can relax and enjoy each other’s company.I also just love dancing. I could dance all the time and I enjoy learning new and fun dances.


How do you manage SSBYD, school, family, friends, and ‘down time’?


Thanks to ISPE I get out of school an hour early and I have some time to work on my homework and have some “me” time. After dance classes and my homework is done, I try to spend time with my family and pets. During the weekend I have more time for family and friends. Saturday nights and Sundays I get to relax and just have fun.


Tell us about your dance history.


I have been dancing for about 10-1/2 years at Gustafson Dance. I started to dance here when I was two. There are many things that inspire me to dance such as watching some of the older girls dance or watching the State Street Ballet perform. When I was little what really inspired me was seeing my sister dance during Parent Observation week. There are pictures of me as a baby at the studio taken when we were dropping off my older sister for dance class. I guess you can say I have been coming to Gustafson Dance my whole life.


What are your future plans after SSBYD and high school graduation?


I will be continuing to dance over the summer. I will be participating in the State Street Ballet Summer Intensive program and Junior Intensive as well. I will also do a few evening classes from time to time.





Anna Lebolt – April 2018

Anna Lebolt
Company


Anna, what a year it has been for you! You danced the Misfit Doll in Rudolph and are dancing in all Company pieces for RDA. What are your thoughts about this year?


This year has really been a test of stamina and versatility. A lot of the roles and dances I’ve been in this year never seem to end, which at first I was highly intimidated by. However, I find that the strength and stamina from those roles also translates to the other pieces I’ve had to do—all of which are challenging and rewarding in their own unique ways. Overall I would say this year has been challenging, but that it has also fostered much growth and improvement.


It has been noted that you are a very hard-working, dedicated dancer. What inspires you to dance?


I would say that I am inspired most by sharing the stage and taking class with my fellow dancers. Everyone brings something unique to our group and it’s incredibly moving and motivational to grow along side them. Some of the greatest joys of dancing are experiencing the excited energy eminating from everyone before entering the stage, as well observing everyone put their all into the movement. I am inspired by the work ethic, talent, and love for the art form of dance that all my peers posses.


Please share with us some of your challenges and rewards dancing in SSBYD.


My biggest challenge this year was definitely building up the stamina for the Misfit Doll. My parents tried to get me to go running, but as a dancer with many injuries, it didn’t go so well. That role was by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to dance but in the end I was very proud of my performance. In my opinion, the greatest reward regarding dancing will always be seeing improvement. It can be so tiring to put in as much effort as we dancers do, but seeing what one’s hard work has resulted in makes everything feel worth it.


How do you manage dance training, a demanding rehearsal and performance schedule, school, family, friends, and down-time?


I would like to say that I’ve found a perfect method to manage all the demands and joys of life but in my experience it’s nearly impossible to do everything. I’ve had to make many sacrifices, (especially regarding down time) but I would say that it is ultimately worth it. My best piece of advice would be to avoid procrastination at all costs. I have found that having a busy dance schedule and leaving projects/essays until the night before they are due do not mix well.


Is there a special item you carry in your dance bag?


My bag is virtually the sock drawer for all of SSBYD. I like to have at least 6 pairs of socks in my bag at all times and every rehearsal I have multiple people approaching me in the hopes that I have extra socks. I always do 🙂





Ella Rotondo – April 2018

Ella Rotondo
Apprentice 2


Ella, what inspired you to choreograph a piece for Celebration? Is there a story to your choreography?


I was so excited when I was asked to choreograph again. I had a lot of ideas that I wanted to portray through my piece but what inspired me the most is what had been going on in our community these past couple of months. Throughout the fires, mudslides and storms, I really wanted to put a fun and joyful piece together. It was really inspiring to see our communities pulling together to help each other and make sure their friends and family were safe. However, it was a dark time for many people and I thought putting such an energetic and happy piece together would bring joy to the people who got to watch it!


Moving up through SSBYD and now an Apprentice 2, what are your thoughts about your journey in dance?


I always look forward to coming to dance. I just love the atmosphere and all the people I get to work with. I’ve always loved the idea of never being perfect and always having something to work on. Being in SSBYD these past few years has flown by! I can’t believe I’m already in Apprentice 2. Dance has always helped me clear my mind and it always puts me in a good mood. This year has been so fun and I can’t wait for more classes and rehearsals to come!


You recently worked through a knee injury. Share with us your recovery, how you knew you were ready to resume dancing, and what you learned in this experience.


Being out of dance for two months due to my knee injury was really hard for me. It made me really sad having to sit out of classes and rehearsals but I took that sadness and turned it into determination! Going to physical therapy had turned into my new classes. I worked so hard and my therapist was so awesome and helpful. He always pushed me so hard but I knew that when it was time for me to get back into the studio I would be ready! I learned many things about my knees and how I can make them feel better but also how placement has a huge effect on our muscles. Although it was hard being out of dance, in a way I’m glad this happened because now I feel even stronger than I did before!


You were cast as Little Red Riding Hood in Celebration’s Sleeping Beauty. What was your initial reaction to being cast? Was the choreography challenging? Is there a special dance role you aspire to be cast as?


When I first found out that I got Little Red Riding Hood I was so excited!! I loved practicing my dance with Bennett and trying to make it as flawless as we could. I think the most challenging part of that dance was the acting. For me, I sometimes tend to lose my facial expression. So, this part was really good practice for me and I had a load of fun performing it! One role I aspire to be cast as is Clara in the Nutcracker. Ever since I was little I loved the Nutcracker and it is still one of my favorite performances. Getting to perform with State Street Ballet every year gets me so excited. Something about that time of year is so special to me and getting to dance in the Nutcracker just tops off my excitement! Getting to dance the role of Clara would mean so much to me!


What do you like to do in your spare time?


In my spare time I LOVE to go to the beach, stretch, play with my dogs, hang out with friends, and do art. I like to do crafty things like making decorations for my room or checking out neat DIY things. I also love being outside and the beach is probably one of my favorite places to be (outside of the studio!)!!





Marina Fay – April 2018

Marina Fay
Apprentice 1


Marina, share with us how you manage dancing in SSBYD, getting ready for RDA, school, dance team (which is it?), family, friends, and finding time to relax.


Having such a crazy schedule can be hard, but with good time management it’s definitely do-able. Right now I’m doing ballet 4 times a week and dance team at school 2 times a week, leaving me only with Sunday’s free. I make sure in school I really pay attention to my classes so that the homework is easier and goes faster. I don’t have to study as much the more focused you are during classes. I make sure to get my homework done before a certain time of each day so at night I can relax and be with my family. Sundays, I can hang out with friends.


What are you most looking forward to at Festival?


I’m really looking forward to just the experience in general. I think it’s going to be exciting taking classes where I might get different types of feedback than normal, and I’m really looking forward to see the shows at night. It’ll be fun traveling with my friends from dance, but also meeting new people at RDA.


Is there a particular dance role you are working and hope to be cast in?


Right now there isn’t a specific role I’m hoping to be, but I think it would be fun to be a main character in a show, or to do a duet/trio with someone. I’d also love to be cast in lots of contemporary dances by the student choreographers for the Emerging Showcase.


How does SSBYD inspire you to dance?


I love being part of something that makes me feel like I’m on a team. SSBYD is like my second family and I love seeing all my dance friends. It’s fun because we can all relate to the same thing and I love getting to dance with people who make me so happy.


Share with us your special ‘must have’ item you carry in your dance bag.


I always have to have hair spray in my bag, but not for my hair! Putting hairspray on my pointe shoe ribbons helps keep them from coming out. It’s such a great tip for keeping them in.





Rebecca Lennon – April 2018

Rebecca Lennon
Junior


Rebecca, how is your first year in SSBYD going?


My first year in SSBYD has been amazing so far! I have loved the extra performances we have done and spending more time with my friends over the weekend at rehearsal.


Share with us what has been difficult and what has been fun about dancing in SSBYD.


One thing that has been difficult is juggling school ,dance, and music. My homework load this year has been very heavy so I have to stay up late on weeknights to get it done or study for tests, then I go in early to school to play in the school band. Some things that have been fun is getting to eat lunch with the friends during Saturday rehearsals. It’s a time where we can relax and enjoy each other’s company. I also just love dancing. I could dance all the time and I enjoy learning new and fun dances.


How do you organize school, dance training/rehearsals/performances, family, friends, and ‘me’ time?


Thanks to ISPE, I get out of school an hour early and I have some time to work on my homework and have some “me” time. After dance classes and my homework is done, I try to spend time with my family and pets. During the weekend I have more time for family and friends. Saturday nights and Sundays I get to relax and just have fun.


How many years have you been dancing and what inspires you to dance?


I have been dancing for about 10-1/2 years at Gustafson Dance. I started to dance here when I was two. There are many things that inspire me to dance, such as watching some of the older girls dance or watching the State Street Ballet perform. When I was little what really inspired me was seeing my sister dance during Observation week. There are pictures of me as a baby at the studio taken when we were dropping off my older sister for dance class. I guess you can say I have been coming to Gustafson Dance my whole life.


Do you have any plans to continue dancing through the summer?


I will be continuing to dance over the summer. I will be participating in the State Street Ballet Summer Intensive program and Junior Intensive as well. I will also do a few evening classes from time to time.





Catherine Pizzinat – March 2018

Catherine Pizzinat, Company

T
he rigors of a Company dancer are many. How are you balancing rehearsals, dance training, school, family, and friend?
I
t has definitely been hard trying to balance everything going on at dance and outside of the studio, but I try and manage my time so it all works out.
C
an you share some of the challenges and rewards of dancing with SSBYD?
I
think the biggest reward of being in SSBYD is the friendships that we all make with each other and how close we all become. A challenge for me is trying to make sure I don’t get injured or trying to heal any injuries with all the amount of time we’re dancing.
A
re there any dance roles that were personally impactful to you?
W
hen I was in Teen Dance Star, I think that impacted me a lot because it showed to me how much my friends, family, and teachers supported me.
W
hat inspires you to dance?
M
y friends. Since we are in the studio together almost everyday we all support each other so much and they all inspire me to try my best.





Tessa Storr – March 2018

Tessa Storr, Apprentice 2

I
n moving up through the SSBYD, what are your thoughts in your dance journey?
I
have had such an incredible time dancing with SSBYD in the past couple of years. It has been a pleasure to do what I love with so many talented, supportive dancers and teachers, and to learn something new every single day at the studio. Dancing in SSBYD has really helped me grow as a dancer and the part I love most about it is that I get to work towards my goals, and always have a new goal to reach for.

D
o you have any dance role models?
A
dancer who really inspires me is Misty Copeland. Even though she started dancing a little later than most and was doubted by many people, she learned and progressed so quickly, eventually becoming an amazing principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre.

W
hat do you like to do in your spare time?
I
n my spare time I love to go to the beach, spend time with friends and family, go on adventures, sing, and travel.
I
s there a unique or special item in your dance bag?

I
don’t have anything super special in my dance bag, but I always make sure to keep a snack and an extra pair of pointe shoes!





Emilia Thomas – March 2018

Emilia Thomas, Apprentice 1

A
s an Apprentice, how you are managing rehearsal rigors, dance training, school, and a personal life?
T
he key to balancing my school work, dance rehearsal, and personal life is using my time well. I use my study hall periods and days I don’t have dance to finish any school work, which leaves me free to focus on dance along with friends and family of course.
C
an you share with us your thought on attending the upcoming RDA Festival?

I
think that RDA is an amazing opportunity and would be amazing to go to. I am sadly not attending this year because this is my first year at a brand new school and things have been a little chaotic since I was affected by the Montecito Mudslides.

C
elebration of Dance and Madeline performances are on the forefront. Share with us your thought on the upcoming shows.
I
really love performing in both Celebration of Dance and the Spring performance because being on and back stage is always fun and exciting. This will be my first year doing Madeline so I am looking forward to seeing how it will turnout. I have also never been in Sleeping Beauty which is the show we are doing for Celebration of Dance. I am very delighted to be in both of these shows alongside my friends.
I
s there a particular dance role you aspire to be cast as?
O
verall I just love to be on stage with the great friends I have made in class. I would be thrilled to get any role in a performance and would put in my full effort to do the part well. One role that I think would be fun would be the lead Elf in Rudolph.





Corrinne Yungling – March 2018

Corrinne Yungling, Junior

W
hat has been your experience in your first year with SSBYD?
I
t is amazing being a part of a group of dancers that are extremely passionate and talented. Performing as a dancer in SSBYD has been so much fun. I have learned so much and I can’t wait for future performances.
D
o you have ‘must have’ items in your dance bag?
I
always keep items such as toe tape and my pointe shoe sewing kit in my bag to comfort my feet during class and to be ready for performances.
W
hat has inspired you to pursue dance in SSBYD?
W
hen I was younger, I was in awe as I watched the older dancers perform. Even as I watched the dancers up on stage, I could tell how driven and committed these girls were. When I was given the opportunity to become a dancer in SSBYD, I knew that I wanted to be a member of this community filled with supportive teachers and dancers.





Sarah Block – March 2018

March’s Senior Feature races after Company Member Sarah Block. Best wishes on your new journeys Sarah!

S
arah, you’ve danced some amazing roles in your years with SSBYD. What are a few of your most memorable/personal moments?
M
y most memorable role was definitely Clara in the Nutcracker. Being Clara had been my dream ever since I began dancing and I had the opportunity to star as Clara two years in a row! Clara is such a special role that really helped me come into myself as a dancer and learn to truly be the character rather than just dance it. Some other memorable moments have been performing at RDA in Kassandra Taylor Newberry’s piece “Ah I See” and last year in “Anomalous Collective.” Her choreography is where I feel the most myself and it is so much fun dancing with all of my friends at Festival!
W
ould you please discuss with the readers what has been your greatest challenge(s) and greatest achievement(s)?
M
y greatest challenge recently has been dealing with my hip tendonitis. It’s extremely frustrating being in class every day and feeling as though I can’t improve at all and can’t try my best. I’ve learned a lot through this experience about how to work from my true turnout and work from the bottom up. It’s hard to choose one achievement that I am most proud of. I think that each and every performance that I put my all into is a great achievement. It’s just crazy to think about how many roles and how many pieces I’ve danced in the past six years. I’ve accomplished a lot.
D
o you have any advice, suggestions, or insightful wisdom for upcoming dancers to consider?
Y
es! First and foremost, be grateful for this incredible place that you get to call your second home. Get the most that you possibly can out of your time at Gustafson and in SSBYD. The friends you make here will last you a life time. Second, please, please, please don’t force your turnout or roll in your feet or push yourself beyond what is natural for you. It’s not worth it in the long run if you are able to turn your feet out 180 degrees or lift your leg up to your face when you get an injury that forces you to start at square one. Also, make sure that you take full advantage of the opportunities given to you through SSBYD. Even if you don’t get cast in a piece, understudy! More times than I can count we have needed an understudy to perform because a dancer had an injury. It shows your teachers and choreographers that you are hard working and someone to consider next time.
W
hat are your plans after SSBYD and your high school graduation? Do you anticipate difficulty moving forward from SSBYD?
M
y only plan so far is to go to SBCC next year and save money and take a little break from dancing. I would absolutely love to have experience with a company and my dream is to go to Europe and dance there in a contemporary company for a year or two. I’ve never wanted my career to be in dance, but I don’t feel like I’m ready to give it up yet. I do anticipate difficulty moving on. This is my home and my fellow dancers my family so I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like not coming here and dancing with all of my people every day. It definitely makes me want to stay 17 forever and never leave.
W
hat are the most cherished items that you have had in your dance bag over the years?
M
y most cherished items in my dance bag are my Cliff Bars (which I never finish so I frequently find half-eaten bars in my bag), my Hydro Flask (which I use to roll out my sore muscles), and my tennis ball/baseball (which I also use to roll out)!





Audrey Biles – February 2018

We are catching up with Apprentice 2, Audrey Biles this month. Audrey, in addition to rehearsing for Celebration and RDA, is preparing for her role as Madeline!

H
ow do you balance academics, family and friends, and a rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule?
B
alancing school work, time with friends and family and performances can be difficult, but nothing beats the joy I feel when I’m at dance. I do most of my homework during free periods at school, and sometimes bring it with me to dance if I have a long break.
W
hat is the greatest challenge and most rewarding element of SSBYD?
F
or me, the greatest challenge of being in SSBYD is the amount of dances I have to learn in a short amount of time. I make sure to go over new choreography before and after dance, that way I can retain choreography easier. The most rewarding part has to be performing, and in SSBYD we get to do a lot of that!
W
hat are your thoughts about dancing in SSBYD?
I
’m so grateful to be able to be a part of SSBYD, especially after moving to Santa Barbara last school year. SSBYD is like being a part of a family, and it allows you to surround yourself with supportive people who share your passion.
W
hat is your favorite part of attending RDA?
M
y favorite thing about going to RDA is the opportunity to take classes with teachers from all over the country. Also, traveling with my friends is always fun!
C
ongratulations on being cast as Madeline!! What was your reaction upon receiving the news? How are rehearsals going, considering you are preparing for Celebration and Festival?
W
hen I heard I was given the role of Madeline, I was so excited! I can not wait to start rehearsing and to embrace the role. Preparing for multiple different shows is challenging, but something that helps me is writing down notes for each piece, that way I don’t get too confused!





Senior Feature February 2018

We caught up with Fenna R. and Sophia V., both Company Members, as they share their memories, wisdom, and future plans.

W
hat are some of your most memorable moments in your years with SSBYD?

F
enna
I
don’t know if this counts as a memorable moment, but I know this is something I’ll remember forever. Seeing the piece that I choreographed be performed at Adjudication was amazing. The dancers worked so hard and really brought it to life, and I don’t know if the audience loved it, but seeing my friends up there, dancing this happy piece, make me tear up a little. I’m so so, so proud of them and how hard they worked on this piece, with the limited time they had. I know I’ll remember this first performance forever.
S
ophia
I
will never forget my time with SSBYD; it has been the hallmark of my adolescence. For me, the Nutcracker, Tina the Ballerina (in 2013, when I was Tina), and “False Start” have been defining performances/pieces. Saturdays at the studio have also been a favorite time of mine. We’re dancing all day so we get a little bit loopy, but it’s when we make up our best inside jokes, have fun lunches together, and be our weirdest selves (shoutout to Kate Dalforno and Anna Lebolt for making me laugh like no other people can).

RDA is an incredible experience, and each year comes with an abundance of memories. Spokane in 2014 has consistently ranked as one of my most-loved Festivals ever, and I am so excited that we’ll be going back! It’s my seventh and final year, and I’m glad to be ending with such a beautiful city!

P
lease share with us what was your most challenging time and your greatest achievement.


F
enna
I
’ve never had a single challenging moment, but it’s always been hard for me to stay motivated in dance, specially when I used to see all my friends get fun roles and me being the only one who didn’t get to wear a tutu or a party girl dress. I think those challenges made me stronger though, when people didn’t believe in me. I worked hard to prove them wrong. Stemming off that, I think my greatest achievement was performing as Snow this year. I remember when I was younger, I used to watch Snow from the wings and all I wanted was to be up there someday too. Dancing that role this year was probably one of the happiest moments of my life.

S
ophia
A
truly challenging time was when my mother passed away in 2012; I got through the tough situation and came out stronger because of my “family” at the studio. I remember the older dancers helping so much, comforting and encouraging me.

I think that my commitment to dance is a remarkable achievement, and I attribute it to keeping me focused and afloat throughout my life, especially during my high school years.

W
hat advice and wisdom to you wish to share for upcoming SSBYD dancers?

F
enna
I
think my advice would be to be patient and stay true to yourself. You’ll be happiest if you’re not trying to be someone you’re not and it’ll shine through in your dancing.
S
ophia
S
tick with it! Do not give up dance. Remain a part of SSBYD because there is nothing like it. I realized this more and more as I progressed through the college application process. When given a prompt to which I had to respond about my community; where I came from, who was a vital component to my upbringing, I always wrote about the studio and how special our group is. We’re always there for each other, and as we’ve all encountered difficult times in our individual lives, we always know we have someone compassionate and caring to listen.
M
oving forward in life, what are your plans after SSBYD and your high school graduation?

F
enna
A
fter I graduate, I’m staying in Santa Barbara to attend SBCC. I really want to stay involved with the studio,;volunteering, maybe teaching, working behind the front desk, and taking open classes. I’ve been at this studio my whole life and I can’t imagine leaving. I’d really love to keep choreographing too! I don’t know where or how, but it’s something I really love.

S
ophia
A
fter graduation and SSBYD, I will be attending college somewhere, perhaps in California or maybe a different state I do not know yet! I am waiting for all of my admission decisions, which are not due to arrive until April. Right now, I am majoring in either Political Science or Classical Studies, it depends on the school. I will also, of course, be minoring in Dance!
I
s there a cherished, sentimental, or good luck item(s) that you carry in your dance bag?

F
enna
I
don’t really have a cherished item in my bag but something I always, always carry are my trash bag shorts. I always need them!
S
ophia
I
keep a golden guardian angel pin in my bag, especially during performances. My grandparents gifted it to me and it is meant to signify my mom’s presence so she can always be at my side.



Good Luck and Merde Fenna and Sophia!!!



Senior Feature January 2018

Something new! This year we’ll be chatting with SSBYD high school Seniors in ‘Senior Feature.’ In their final year, these Seniors will share their memories, achievements, thoughts, and future aspirations. This month’s Senior Feature shines on SSBYD Captains Karlise Loza and Hannah Ezell.

W
hat are some of your most memorable times in SSBYD?

K
arlise
M
y most memorable times in SSBYD have been traveling to the Regional Dance America Festivals. It is such an amazing bonding experience to spend a week away, surrounded by people who love dance as much as we do. Not only do we get closer as a Company, but we also have opportunities to form relationships with dancers from other companies in our region, even nation-wide.
H
annah
S
ome very memorable times would be RDA, performances, having life talks, and being able to just help each other when someone needs it.
C
an you tell us what your biggest challenge and your greatest achievement?

K
arlise
M
y biggest challenge has been learning not to compare myself to other dancers. It takes a lot of self-confidence to be able to realize that every dancer has their own strengths and weaknesses and that everyone is capable of being beautiful no matter their physical gifts. My biggest dance achievement has been dancing the role of Clara (The Nutcracker). It was an amazing experience to dance alone on stage at the Granada and to work so closely with professional dancers. It was very rewarding to know that my performance was a part of many families’ holiday traditions. Maybe it may inspire someone to give dancing a try.
H
annah
M
y biggest dance challenge would probably be staying positive when I don’t do something as well as I had hoped. My biggest achievement would for sure be approaching dance in a new light and doing it because I genuinely love it, and truly accepting dance and all of its beauty.
D
o you have advice for upcoming dancers?

K
arlise
M
y advice for upcoming SSBYD dancers would be to take every extra opportunity to improve yourself as a dancer. If there are open classes over the breaks, then take them! If there are optional Master classes, then take them! Every new teacher and new class is a change to gain a different perspective that may help you in the long run.
H
annah
N
o matter what, stay positive. Sometimes you don’t get the role you want, and it might not seem like it, but it’s ok! It just teaches you to work harder and then time maybe you will get the part you want.
W
hat are your plans after SSBYD and graduation?

K
arlise
I
am applying to 10 different schools, my top choice being Chapman University as a Dance major and my second choice being University of San Francisco as a Performance with Social Justice major.
H
annah
I
am applying to a few colleges but my top choice is to go to UCSB as a Dance major with a Science minor.
W
hat is the most cherished item(s) that you carry in your dance bag?

K
arlise
M
y most cherished item would be my Z-bars that I always keep to snack on in between classes and rehearsals when I need an energy boost!
H
annah
D
efinitely my tennis ball, 100%. I use it before every single class and I can’t go without it.



Clara Morando and Izzy Fuentes December 2017

This month’s Dancer Spotlight features SSBYD Company dancers Clara Morando and Izzy Fuentes who are dancing the premier role of Clara in State Street Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Between Rudolph and The Nutcracker rehearsals and academics, we’re catching up with them as they prepare for this prestigious role.

L
Ladies, congratulations on earning the honor to dance the role as Clara in The Nutcracker. Share with us your initial reactions of the casting announcement.

C
lara
W
hen the casting first came out, I could not believe my eyes. I was overjoyed. This is a role I have always dreamed of dancing. The Nutcracker at the Grand Theater, with a live orchestra, has always been a magical experience for me. I know dancing the role of Clara will be a memory I will always treasure.
I
zzy
M
y mom called me and told me I was case as one of the role of Clara after speaking with Allison. I was shocked and filled with immediate joy and excitement. This is a role I’ve dreamed about since I danced in my first Nutcracker. I would definitely say it’s been the highlight of my year
H
ow are you balancing rehearsals, school, and family?

C
lara
S
ince I take dual enrollment and online classes, I have flexibility in my schedule. What that really means is that I have to be organized and stay on top of my school work to make sure it gets all done. I can pack a lot of school work on one day to keep another light when needed. This works well with my dance schedule. As for family and friends, I try to fit in time whenever I can.
I
zzy
I
am home schooled which is a blessing. When I have long rehearsals, I bring my work with me and work between breaks. It helps to create a schedule on Sundays and plan out my schoolwork, rehearsals, and any meeting I have with my teachers for the week. Everyone in my life understands how important ballet is to me so they do their best to work around my schedule. I try to devote weekends to my family and friends. Unwinding, watching movies, going to the beach, just relaxing, or just spending time together.
D
ancing the role of Clara, what aspects are the most challenging and the most enjoyable?

C
lara
I
would say the pas de deux is definitely both the most challenging and rewarding aspect of this role. I have had limited partnering experience but the State Street Ballet Company members have been incredibly helpful. The most rewarding part of partnering is that I am able to jump higher and increase my number of turns. Overall, it has been an incredible experience!
I
zzy
D
ancing the role can be a lot of fun and work, conveying my emotions without words through pantomime has been one of my favorite parts. As a dancer, that is one of the most important things to master. You have to use your body to tell a story and having the right emotion, along with dance, can really touch the audience. I would have to say the most challenging part is performing almost an entire show as Clara. You are in most performances, in both Acts, so you really have to build stamina.
A
ny words of wisdom to younger dancers who aspire to dance this role?

C
lara
A
ll I have to say is don’t give up. I auditioned three times for the role of Clara and only on my third attempt did I receive the honor of dancing this role. I chose not to let the first two audition attempts discourage me, but instead used them as a motivator to work harder in class with the goal of auditioning again the next year.
I
zzy
I
would say to any dancer that aspires to dance the role of Clara, have fun, work hard, and make it your own. There are many different types of dancers. Not one of us is the same so let that show when you dance, not just the part of Clara but any part. Practice makes perfect. If this is your dream role, it’s never too early to start practicing and learning the part in your spare time. That has definitely helped me. I worked in my spare time on the role of Clara, or any part I’m dancing, and that helps to improve my performance.



Chloe Babcock and Amelia Miller November 2017

This month’s Dancer Spotlight features SSBYD Company dancers Chloe Babcock (Rudolph) and Amelia Miller (Clarice). These high school Juniors (Chloe attends Santa Barbara High and Amelia attends San Marcos High) take a moment from their busy schedules to share what their life is like in and out of the dance studio.

C
hloe – What was your initial reaction to being cast as Rudolph?
I
was so surprised and immediately excited to play this fun part! I was not expecting to have the opportunity to play Rudolph and I’m looking for to the multiple duets with my best friend Amelia.
H
ow do you balance rehearsals, dance training, and school?
T
his is challenging but has become pretty routine to me now. I utilize a lot of lunch time and Sunday nights to get ahead and do homework early in the week. Even when I have down time at dance or in-between rehearsals, I try to get a few assignments done.
A
melia – How are rehearsals going as Clarice?
S
ince rehearsals have started, my excitement for this role has flourished. I really enjoy dancing my solo and the music just makes it that much better. I also love that I get to dance such a role with my best friend.
W
hat inspires you to dance?
A
lot of things inspire me to dance but the passion I have found and grown upon for the art form is what keeps me going. When having a life chaotic as mine, I always look forward to the consistency of dance and how it’s always there for you.
W
hat do you do in your spare time?

C
hloe
I
love to spend my spare time with friends and family. My favorite things to do with them includes going to the beach and movies, hiking, bowling, and picnicking. I enjoy photography and creating visual art. Last but not least, I love to sleep!
A
melia
Y
ou’ll probably find me adventuring with my friends and family. I always love a good, spontaneous adventure.
I
s there a special item you keep in your dance bag?

C
hloe
I
don’t have any special items but a do keep a little snack in case I get hungry during rehearsals! Bars are my ‘go-to’ and I especially love chocolate chip Chewy ones. Fruit snacks are good too.
A
melia
M
y yo-yo.



Sydney Coffman – June 2017

This month’s Spotlight shines on Apprentice 1 Dancer Sydney Coffman, who will be dancing the title role in Gustafson Dance’s production of Thumbelina this weekend. Sydney shares what’s going on in rehearsals, as well as how dance has inspired her.

C
ongratulations on being cast as Thumbelina! How are rehearsals going?
I
have really enjoyed dancing as Thumbelina and I’m very excited to perform at the lovely Lobero Theatre. Playing Thumbelina is a fun experience because I enjoy acting on stage and I love the character. The most challenging part of my role is definitely partnering. I have never had a partnering class so it makes it very difficult. You have to learn how to work together with your partner and make it look effortless. I never really realized how little things, like where your hand is placed and the distance from your partner in a step, could really make a difference in the way the movement looks. You also have to learn to trust your partner. If you don’t trust your partner, it makes the step more difficult and it doesn’t look as beautiful as it could. I feel fortunate that Bennett is my partner. He is a talented dancer with good work ethics. Thank you, Bennett.
W
hat do you like to do when you’re not dancing?
B
esides dance, I love to hang out with my friends. My best friend happens to live right across the street from me. She is a very talented actress and we love to come see and support each other at our shows. We can talk to each other about anything and understand each other very well. I am very grateful to have such a true, wonderful friend and I couldn’t imagine not having her in my life. I love you Chiya!
W
hat about dance inspires you?
M
y favorite part of the day is when I’m at the dance studio. If I’m ever having a rough day, coming to dance always helps because this is what I want to do for my career. Walking into class always gives me this special feeling of knowing that this is where I belong. Dance is a big part of who I am. Thank you, Gustafson Dance, dancers, and our talented instructors. I feel very proud to be a part of the studio. Getting to see the State Street Ballet Company practice and getting to watch the final product of their hard work is special. I’m always in awe when I see them at the studio. I know it is possible-with hard work and passion for what I do—to make my dream a reality.
D
o you have any dancer role models?
M
y dancer role model is Sara Mearns, who is a principal dancer with New York City Ballet. She really inspires me because whenever she gets on stage, she becomes the role that she is playing. You can also tell how much she loves to dance and perform and makes every step so beautiful and artistic.
A
ny special items in your dance bag?
I
always keep stuff like toe tape and my pointe shoe sewing kit just in case I get a bad blister or need to sew my pointe shoes. I also keep an extra pair of tights in my dance bag if anyone has a rip in theirs or forgot them.




Isabel Clark – February 2017

This month’s Spotlight shines on SSBYD co-captain and Company Level dancer Isabel Clark. Isabel is a senior at Dos Pueblos High School and a member of the DP Engineering Academy (DPEA), as well as an instructor at Gustafson Dance. Isabel took a few minutes out of her busy life to talk with Spotlight!

H
ow do you balance academics with ballet?
T
he demands of DP Engineering are not that much than the demands of regular high school. However, when I have to miss rehearsal (for example, when I had to travel with the DPEA to the Maker Faire) I make sure to communicate with Allison and Nicole ahead of time.
W
hat advice do you have for younger dancers?
T
he advice I would give younger dancers is that one role will not decide your dance career. Keep working hard and don’t forget to have fun.
W
hat have been some of your favorite roles to dance?
O
ne of my favorite roles to dance was in Kassandra Taylor Newberry’s “To Build a Home.” It was a very emotional and beautiful piece and it was my first time performing at RDA. “To Build a Home” will always have a special place in my heart.
W
hat are your plans for after graduation?
A
fter graduation, I plan to go to college and pursue a double major in Dance and Economics.
A
ny special items in your dance bag?
I
usually have around 4-7 pairs of pointe shoes (most which I do not wear anymore) and candy.





December 2016

Clara Morando, Chloe Babcock & Tori Fay

This month’s Spotlight shines on three dancers highlighted in Rudolph: Clara Morando (Rudolph), Chloe Babcock (Heidi), and Tori Fay (Yukon Cornelia). The three Apprentice 2 dancers discuss rehearsals for December performances, balancing school and ballet, and where they can be found when not in the studio!

Clara Morando

C
ongratulations on playing the part of Rudolph! How are rehearsals going, and what are some of the challenges of the role?

R
ehearsals are going great! I don’t have any part that I am struggling with, but it is a little overwhelming to memorize all of the choreography for Rudolph with The Nutcracker coming a couple of weeks after.
W
hat was the first role you ever danced in Rudolph? What has been your favorite role to dance?

M
y first part in Rudolph was a Green Elf. It was my first ever jazz dance and I was so excited! It stands out in my memory because it was the first time I ever danced any other type of dance other than ballet. Some of my favorite roles in Rudolph have been Ice Skaters and Santa’s Helpers.
W
hat do you like to do in your free time?

I
n my free time I love to spend time with my family and friends. And when I am not with them you can always find me reading a book!


W
hat’s a special item in your dance bag?

W
ell, I have a special pointe shoe key chain that hangs on my bag. My former jazz teacher, Sarah, gave it to me.

Chloe Babcock

Y
ou are dancing the role of Heidi in Rudolph this year! What do you especially like or find challenging about this role?

I
love that Heidi is a happy character who loves to dance. I really enjoy the solo as well as dancing alongside Clara as Rudolph a few times! Although the role is fun, it is challenging for me, especially the pas de deux with the snow monster!
H
ow do you balance school and ballet?

I
really like being involved with my school through ASB/leadership and also experiencing such awesome programs like the Multimedia Arts and Design (MAD) Academy, where I am learning a lot about graphic design, photography, film, and more. Balancing everything is not always easy but I love both school and dance and can always find a way to make things work out.
W
hat do you like to do when you’re not at school or dance?

S
chool and dance take up a lot of my time, but I do also love to spend time with friends and family. I don’t really have many hobbies besides occasionally swimming and hiking. I also enjoy drawing and painting.


W
hat’s a special item in your dance bag?

I
don’t really have a special item in my dance bag. However, I often eat Chick-fil-A before or after class and usually have a couple of wrappers or napkins in my bag from there which my friends and I think is pretty funny. Classic Chloe. 

Tori Fay

C
ongratulations on dancing Yukon Cornelius in Rudolph. How are rehearsals going?

I
am excited to play the role of Yukon in Rudolph! I especially like dancing with the little dogs, and having them pull me in the sleigh. Yukon is my first big role and I am very excited to dance and act, as well. I am looking forward to all my upcoming roles, and I am especially thrilled about dancing in the “Waltz of the Flowers” in The Nutcracker this year.
H
ow do you balance school and ballet?

T
he Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy (DPEA) is something I really enjoy at school, as it allows me to try new things and apply the learning and create actual projects. School and dance can be hard to balance at times, but with Independent PE I try to get some work done in my free 6th period so that it’s not all waiting for me after I get home from ballet.
W
hat do you like to do in your free time?

I
n my little free time, I love hanging out with friends, drawing, hiking, and going on adventures! This year I’m teaching myself how to play the guitar, which is a lot of fun. I also spend a good deal of time doing homework and spending time with my family, as well. I love spending time outdoors because it relieves stress, and going on walks in nature is so beautiful. I also am a team member of a volunteer organization called Build On, which raises money to build schools in poor countries. I hope to raise enough money to travel to Nicaragua this summer and help to build a school there.


W
hat’s a special item in your dance bag?

A
special random item in my dance bag is a bunch of little perfumes and hand sanitizers that smell amazing. I always keep a little perfume with me wherever I go, so of course I must have some in my dance bag!





Sophia Vraciu – October 2016

This month’s Spotlight shines on Company dancer and Santa Barbara High School junior Sophia Vraciu, who will be performing the part of the Ballerina Barbie in Rudolph in December. Sophia talks with Spotlight about favorite roles, her experience as a finalist in Santa Barbara’s inaugural Teen Dance Star competition last year, and plans for life after graduation.

C
ongratulations on being a finalist in Teen Dance Star last year! How would you describe the experience?
T
hank you! Being a part of the inaugural Teen Dance Star was incredible. It was something I kind of auditioned for at the last minute, but the results were amazing. I learned so much, especially about myself and how I apply corrections to my dancing. I also made tons of new friends, connections, and of course, memories I will never forget! I, of course, enjoyed every moment of it, and I strongly suggest all of you girls to audition- it doesn’t hurt and you gain experience no matter what!
W
hat has been some of your most memorable dance roles?
I
have been lucky enough to have some really great roles over the years, and I’m super excited about Barbie, especially because there’s a lot of acting involved, which makes it that much more fun and provides a focus on more than just the steps. I was Tina in Tina the Ballerina when I was 13, which I absolutely loved, and also I got to be a lead in a company piece called “False Start” when I was in the 8th grade–that was a huge evolving period for me and I was so lucky to have had such an opportunity.
W
hat do you like to do in your free time?
H
aha free time! In my limited free time, I love to hang out with my friends and do crazy, fun, and spontaneous things, catch up on sleep, or even do homework (as crazy as that sounds). I find solace and stress relief in studying!
W
hat would you like to do after graduation?
B
efore I went to high school, I was pretty adamant and focused on becoming a professional ballerina. College was always going to happen, but it was still with a focus on dance, dance, and more dance! But during my freshman year, my priorities shifted. I got injured, had surgery, and I realized that college, school, and learning were something else that I loved and wanted to pursue. I have a big list of dream schools; I’m thinking either law or pre-med/surgery.
A
ny special items in your dance bag?
P
eople usually marvel at the large amount of pointe shoes I carry around. I’m very picky and always need several old backup pairs to rotate in use! I also carry around this contraption thing called “The Stick.” it’s like a roller that runners use, and it really gets to the tight and stubborn muscles!





Catherine Pizzinat – May 2016

This month’s Spotlight shines on Catherine Pizzinat. In May, Catherine will be dancing the title role of Tina the Ballerina and is hard at work with the rest of the cast rehearsing for the shows. We checked in with the 8th-grade La Colina student as she prepares for Tina!

C
ongratulations on earning the part of Tina the Ballerina! How are rehearsals going?
R
ehearsals are going great! I think the part that is most challenging is having to go from the first dance straight to the second dance without coming off stage. I love the finale because it’s so much fun to dance and to a great song!
W
hen you’re not dancing or in school, what do you like to do?
I
like to spend time with my friends and family when I’m not at dance or school.
W
hat inspires you about dance?
D
ance has taught me not to give up on something that I’m pursuing, whether it be trying to get a certain turn down or improving technique.
W
hat’s a special item in your dance bag?
I
do have this key chain of a pointe shoe hanging on my bag that Sarah, our former jazz teacher, gave me.





Hannah Ezell and Morgan Love December 2015

This month’s Dancer Spotlight shines on the two talented young dancers who will be alternating the role of Clara in the upcoming production of The Nutcracker, presented by the State Street Ballet. Apprentice 2 dancers Hannah Ezell and Morgan Love spoke with us about the role of dance in their lives and preparing for Clara.

C
ongratulations on being cast as Clara! Is this a part that you’ve always wanted to dance, or a recent goal? What made you decide to audition?

H
annah
I
have always wanted the role of Clara! I’ve wanted it for as long as I can remember so it is a huge honor to be cast. When I was younger I would tie a pink ribbon in my hair and dance to the video of my sister as Clara! I decided to audition because I am now at the level where we are given the opportunity to audition so of course I took it!
M
organ
B
eing the role of Clara has always been a dream of mine ever since I’ve started dancing! When I was younger, I would always have my nutcracker out during the holidays and wish to have a dream like Clara did. I decided to audition because this has been my dream role for so long!
W
hat parts of the role do you find the most interesting or challenging?

H
annah
T
he most challenging part of the role would definitely be the pas de deux because I have never done it before! It has been a great experience, and I have learned so much from it. I’ve never had much of a solo before, so it is really interesting dancing on my own with everyone watching.
M
organ
I
love the beginning of the second act although it is very challenging! Partnering is very tough, especially because this is one of the first times I’ve ever done it. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to work with the professional company, especially when they give you helpful advice and compliments.
W
hen you’re not in dancing or in school, what do you like to do?

H
annah
I
really enjoy spending time with my friends and family when I can in my spare time.


M
organ
W
hen I get the chance, I like to hang out with friends! It’s hard to do that, however, because most of the time I am at school, dance, or studying. Although I do not have other hobbies, dancing is my absolute passion and I’m so happy that it’s my main interest.
W
hat advice would you give younger dancers who aspire to a lead role?

H
annah
W
orking hard always pays off! After every class or rehearsal I try to make sure there are at least three things I learned. It is also very helpful to write down goals, corrections, and achievements! Make sure you always put in 110% with everything you do, and good things will come!
M
organ
D
ancing is not about perfection! It is not about the number of turns, 180 degree turnout, or how high your extensions are. It’s about how much hard work and effort you put into it to make something beautiful. I believe if you have the passion and the dedication then you truly are an amazing dancer inside and out.





Anna Lebolt – October 2015

This month’s Dancer Spotlight shines on Anna Lebolt! Anna will be dancing the title role in the winter production of Rudolph. We asked the Dos Pueblos freshman a few question as she prepares for her big role:

C
ongratulations on being cast as Rudolph! How have rehearsals been going?
R
ehearsals have been going well! I feel a bit overwhelmed with all the choreography, but I feel confident that I will be able to remember everything and enjoy it. This is my first lead role, so I’d say I’m both very excited and nervous! Right now, I would say I am most nervous about blizzard, because there are so many people on stage, I’ve heard from others that it is quite stressful, and because I haven’t even started it learning it yet!
D
o you remember the first role that you ever danced in Rudolph?
M
y first role in Rudolph was a green elf. I believe I was 11, and it was my first year of jazz. I’ll always remember that part, because it was the first time I really experienced a dancing type other than ballet.
W
hat advice would you give younger dancers?
I
would remind them that even though it’s important to try their hardest, not everything they do has to be perfect! Ballet is supposed to be fun, and you can’t fully enjoy it if you’re putting yourself down all the time! Also, always put 100% effort in your dancing, it really pays off 🙂
W
here can you be found when you’re not dancing or in school?
I
n my free time, I love to draw, read, and go on my phone. I would call myself a fairly artistic person, and I basically like to do anything that has to do with art.
W
hat’s a special item in your dance bag?
W
ell, it’s nothing all that special, but I have all my name tags from RDA and the summer intensives I’ve been to in a pocket inside of my dance bag. I also always carry around lots of skirts- I think I have about 5 in my bag right now!





Jenna Comstock – June 2015

Zachary-Wells

This month’s Dancer Spotlight focuses on Company dancer Jenna Comstock. This is Jenna’s second year choreographing a piece for SSBYD’s annual Celebration of Dance. We talked to the Santa Barbara High School junior about her experiences in ballet and choreography:

H
ow did you get started in choreographing dances and what is the most satisfying and challenging aspects of it?
I
‘ve always been inspired by music. Since I was young, my family has played music around the house and my sister and I have always loved making up little dances to all different kinds of music. But I had never really thought about choreographing until last summer. I realized how much I enjoy expressing my ideas through movement and patterns, and how much I love working with other dancers. The hardest part for me is to simplify my ideas and decide what I want the piece to look like.
W
here do you get inspiration for the pieces you choreograph?
I
am often inspired by the evolution of relationships and group dynamics. I’m also interested in the balance of nature in contrast with the disproportionate focus on appearance of popular culture. All of our dancers are very smart and perceptive, and I really enjoy playing around with ideas and patterns with them. My piece this year communicated a fear of comfort and was also inspired by the contrast between clarity and confusion. I also love creating movements and patterns based on interesting questions I’ve heard!
T
his year you are Dance Captain, Emerging Choreographer, and a member of your high school’s Visual Arts and Design Academy. How do you balance all of the different parts of your life?
I
am very interested in and passionate about these things, and that really helps me balance academics and dance. When I do get stressed out, I remind myself to keep a good perspective and make sure that getting everything done isn’t as important as enjoying what I’m doing, and doing it well.
Y
ou have danced the lead role in Madeline. Any advice for this year’s Madeline?
T
he best advice I’ve ever gotten was to remember that it’s an incredible opportunity to be able to share such a wonderful story through dancing, and that people really just want to see you enjoying yourself! Also, to remember what an honor it is to be picked to dance a lead role, and that you deserve to enjoy
W
hat’s a special item in your dance bag?
I
always have chocolate!





Zachary Wells – January 2015

Zachary-Wells

This month’s Dancer Spotlight focuses on Company dancer Zachary Wells, who is choreographing his first piece in the upcoming Celebration of Dance in March. We caught up with the busy San Marcos junior to ask him a few questions:

H
ow does it feel to be choreographing your first dance?
I
t is very exciting but also a little scary to be choreographing my first piece. It is exciting to combine music and movement to make my vision come to life. It’s so inspiring to work with the young dancers. I also really look forward to presenting my piece and finding out how audiences respond to my work. The experience has also given me huge respect for the great choreographers that we get to work with at SSBYD: choreographing a new dance is really hard and fun work.
W
hat is the piece about, and where did you get your inspiration for it?
T
he piece is about overcoming miscommunication to make meaningful connections and the support good relationships can give you through hard times. It’s also simply about the beauty of movement: creating a dance that the dancers and the audience will (hopefully) find beautiful and entertaining.
B
ased on your experiences, do you have any advice for younger dancers, particularly boys?
I
would advise boys to give dance a chance! It is a great workout and teaches important skills such as balance, strength and flexibility.
Y
ou are a member of San Marcos’ AAPLE Academy. How do you balance your studies with dance?
T
he AAPLE Academy focuses on rigorous academics and leadership. We take lots of AP classes and participate in many activities outside of the classroom so it is pretty time-consuming. It’s not easy to balance the demands of SSBYD with school, but all the SSBYD dancers have busy lives so we all have to deal with this challenge.





Grace Quittner – November 2014

Grace-Quittner-

This month’s Dancer Spotlight shines on Grace Quittner, who will be dancing the title role in next month’s production of Rudolph. We asked the San Marcos High sophomore a few question as she prepares for her big role.

Y
ou sustained an injury last year and had to miss some shows. How does it feel coming back and starring in Rudolph?
I
t feels great to come back from an injury feeling stronger than ever. I am so excited to star as Rudolph for my first big role (other than Clarice, which I was unable to do last year due to my fracture). This year is a new opportunity and I am looking forward to the show!
W
hat are you most excited about in playing Rudolph? Are you nervous about any scenes?
I
am especially excited for my first solo or “birth” scene in the show. Although it is fairly short, this is the first time that I will dance on stage alone and be able to express myself individually. On the other hand, I am somewhat nervous for blizzard because there are a few pirouettes.
D
o you remember the first role you ever played in Rudolph? What has been some of your favorite roles in the show?
M
y first role in Rudolph was a Red Elf. When I was younger, instead of Rudolph, we did either the Holiday show or Nutcracker at the Lobero. Some of my favorite roles in Rudolph have been Ballerina Barbie and being one of the Misfit Toys for jazz.
D
o you have any advice for younger dancers who someday hope to dance in a lead role?
I
would encourage young dancers to keep striving for their best and pay attention to corrections and input from teachers. Most importantly, I would advise them to practice performance and incorporating emotion into their dancing. It is helpful to remind yourself to stay positive and not let any criticism or doubt make you feel incapable of being great.
W
hat’s a special item in your dance bag?
F
or Christmas my grandma gave me a ballet slipper charm that I hang on the outside of my dance bag. 🙂