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Setting the barre high

June 09, 2005

Mike Sciacca

Allison Ulrich says she'll never forget the phone call she received

in early May.

It was one that left her in a brief state of disbelief. It also

made her cry.

Most importantly, it allowed her to continue the pursuit of her

dream, to dance professionally.

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That call came from the admissions department at the Juilliard

School, and it went to Ulrich's cellphone, to let her know she had

been accepted to the prestigious academy.

Juilliard's mission is to educate talented performing musicians,

dancers and actors so they may achieve the highest artistic

standards. It is at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, in

the heart of New York City.

Ulrich, an 18-year-old resident of Huntington Harbour, graduates

today from the Orange County High School of the Arts, a place where

she has honed her skills and technique through the school's

commercial dance department.

She is one of two OCHSA students, and one of 12 girls

internationally, to be accepted to Juilliard for the 2005-06 academic

year. She is also the first OCHSA commercial dance student to be

accepted at Juilliard.

Soon it will be time for her to make the big move to the Big Apple

to pursue her big dream.

For 15 years Ulrich said she has been involved with "every style"

of dance, but her focus has been in modern, ballet and jazz, which

she will continue to study at Juilliard.

While a student at Marine View Middle School, Ulrich said she

researched the Juilliard School to find out what it was about.

"I knew after reading up on it, that I wanted to go there one

day," she said. Helping her move toward that goal was the

instruction she received at OCHSA, which is in Santa Ana.

Ulrich admits to being nervous the first day of school her

freshman year, but she blossomed into one of the school's most

respected and talented students.

"Even as a freshman, we placed her in our most advanced groups,"

said Cindy Peca-Dolan, assistant director of the commercial dance

department at the school. "She had been featured in nearly every

number choreographed for and at the school."

Peca-Dolan has worked with Ulrich for the past 10 years.

"Working with Allison is always a pleasure and very creatively

stimulating," Peca-Dolan said. "She is exceptionally talented and a

risk-taker who is not afraid to take a new approach to her movement.

"She's just so focused and well-rounded. She's always prepared and

there's such a sense of energy and dynamics to her dancing. She'll do

just great at Juilliard."

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