Ballet dancers give 'Romeo and Juliet' a rockin' twist

The California Theatrical Youth Ballet presents William Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet," utilizing contemporary rock music from the 1996 movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.

The new ballet features scenes with dramatic changes in time, ranging from the Renaissance to contemporary times and trends.

For the past two years, Kamissa Marshall, 15, has delighted audiences in the starring role of Gerda in the California Theatrical Youth Ballet's annual December production of "The Snow Queen" at Glendale Community College. Now, Marshall takes on her newest challenge in this new production as she tackles the leading role of the star-crossed lover Juliet.

"Our cast of young adults are not only being exposed to new choreography, but also to an important classic story in a way that is appealing to them," Erin Holt, artistic director and choreographer, explains. "Kamissa Marshall attacks all of her roles with a unique dramatic and technical ability far beyond her 15 years, making each dance exclusively her own."

The California Theatrical Youth Ballet recently changed its name from Dance Street Performers in an effort to redefine its mission and to fulfill the artistic needs of serious dancers who seek opportunities and experiences that effectively replicate the environment of a professional dance company.

Marshall, who attends daily ballet classes at California Dance Arts (formerly Dance Now Academy), will not get the opportunity to rest after her performances in "Romeo & Juliet." Immediately following the end of production, Marshall will be traveling to Atlanta to participate in a five-week summer intensive program conducted by the Atlanta Ballet.

This dance company's program is one of the nation's most prestigious and certainly one of the most rigorous dance programs offered to serious dance students. Auditions for entry are highly competitive and conducted in many metropolitan cities throughout the United States. Only a handful of the dancers at each audition venue are fortunate enough to be selected to attend such a program.

Marshall's ballet partner as Romeo in "Romeo & Juliet" is Ryan Morrison, 16. Morrison attended Pittsburgh Ballet's summer intensive program last summer on one of the very few and highly coveted full scholarships.

"Romeo & Juliet" features a cast of disciplined pre-professional talent, professional guests, a contemporary musical score, custom-designed costumes and an innovative lighting design.

Performances of "Romeo & Juliet" will be at the California DanceArts Studio, located at 4490 Cornishon Ave., in La Cañada, June 25 at 7:30 p.m., June 26 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and June 27 at 2 p.m.

Limited seating is available. Advanced tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children. At the door, admision is $14 for adults and $12 for children (if available). For tickets, call 790-7924.

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