Ballet routines anything but

Young dancers take heart in athletic feats as they prepare for annual festival.

September 08, 2010|By Michael Miller,
  • Ildiko Ruzics, 18, of Ballet Repertory Theatre, will be dancing in the Fall Festival at Golden West College on September 11-12.
Ildiko Ruzics, 18, of Ballet Repertory Theatre, will… (KENT TREPTOW, HB…)

Penelope Koulos has a tough show ahead of her this weekend, as Ballet Repertory Theatre prepares for its first production of the school year. But tacked in the corner of the bulletin board at the Orange County Dance Center is something to encourage her.

That's the small slip of paper declaring the record she set Nov. 18 in the Huntington Beach studio, where instructors keep track of athletic feats their students achieve durihng rehearsal. Penelope, a junior at Wilson High School in Long Beach, pulled off a fouette – a move in which the dancer spins around on one foot while the other leg whips around – 120 times in a row, breaking her own record of 85.

So why did she stop after 120?

"My calf cramped," Penelope, 16, explained.

"And we all went crazy," added her classmate, 17-year-old Megan Steinkirchner.

Saturday evening, Penelope, Megan and nearly four dozen other teenage dancers will take the stage for the company's annual Fall Festival at Golden West College. Terri Sellars, the co-director of Ballet Repertory Theatre, said records like Penelope's actually help dancers prepare for a production – because the show's routines, which never call for that many consecutive moves, end up seeming easy by comparison.


Of course, that's only by comparison. Sellars, who teaches ballet classes every day at the dance studio at 5872 Edinger Ave., said only the hardest-working students aged 13 and older are accepted into Ballet Repertory Theatre.

"These are the most dedicated," she said. "These are the kids who are here two to three hours a day, every day after school."

This year's Fall Festival, which runs Saturday and Sunday at the Golden West College Theater, features Spanish- and Russian-themed ballets, including "Bolero," "Paquita," "Don Quixote" and "Prince Igor." Spokeswoman Sylvie Nguyen said the organizers were inspired to focus on Spain after the country dominated the news this year – the country won the World Cup and Tour de France, while Spanish-born Pau Gasol was among the championship Los Angeles Lakers.

"We thought, since Spanish flair is in the air, we'd go along with that," Nguyen said.

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