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Ballet students get a special case in pointe

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 the

Salzburg International Ballet Academy Summer Intensive. The workshop

is 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



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, which develops 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


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


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.”