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Breaking a leg, almost

Huntington Academy of Dance alums, now in Los Angeles Ballet, will brave ailments to keep on stage.

February 13, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Allynne Noelle in George Balanchine's "Rubies."
Allynne Noelle in George Balanchine's "Rubies." (Reed Hutchinson,…)

Allynne Noelle was portraying a Turning Girl in "Symphony in 3 Movements" when she snapped her Lisfranc ligament.

With adrenaline coursing through her veins, the Huntington Beach-born ballerina didn't discover her injury until she fell out of bed the next morning, overwhelmed by pain. A soloist at the Miami City Ballet in November 2009, Noelle knew that the turnaround time was too short for the company to replace her before its matinee performance in a few hours.

A combination of Aleve and "the show must go on" attitude got her through the rigorous Balanchine ballet, as well as the next 10 months.

"It was a 'mind over matter' kind of situation," said Noelle, a self-described perfectionist. "I was in pain the whole while, but my body did what I made it do. My mind blocked it out so I could keep dancing."

After undergoing surgery, in which doctors replaced scar tissue and fracture chips in her right foot with an artificial ligament, and physiotherapy, Noelle, undeterred, auditioned for a principal role at the Los Angeles Ballet.

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Dancers at the academy will perform "Balanchine Gold" — part one of the Balanchine Festival 2013 — at locations across Southern California beginning March 9. The second installment, "Balanchine Red," lasts from May through June.

"Artistically, ballet allows me to express myself," said Noelle, 31, of Santa Monica. "I love being able to go to work and do what I love every day. There's a feeling on stage, when you're sharing a part of yourself with the audience, whether it's a story ballet or abstract — it's an experience with someone that comes to be entertained, and we get to move them in some way."

Noelle was led to the barre and ballet shoes in kindergarten due to an invitation by her then-best friend. She immediately "fell in love" with the discipline and structure of the dance form and the opportunity to set goals and work toward them.

It was at the Huntington Academy of Dance that both Noelle and fellow Los Angeles Ballet dancer Kate Highstrete got their start at ages 5 and 3, respectively. Marnell Himes-Ushijima, artistic advisor and founding member of the training institution, provided a strong foundation to both dancers early in their careers, inculcating the importance of an unaffected and clean technique.

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