Santa Clarita Ballet said farewell to six of our seniors, all of whom are off to accomplishing great things. Whether they are going to college or pursuing a career in dance, each of them take with them the lessons and memories they've had at the studio.
Lauren Hart danced at Santa Clarita Ballet for fifteen years and will be attending the University of Utah in the fall.
“I’m going to major in ballet. I’ve been dancing for so long I really can’t see my life without it,” said Lauren. “I think it’s something that I could become really good at if I pursue it and take it even more seriously in college than I have in high school.”
Lauren will take the lessons and memories from the studio with her to college.
“In my time here, I’ve definitely matured a lot more as a dancer and gained more confidence in myself as a person than when I first started,” she said. “I started as a mouse and went all the way up to Sugar Plum, which was my biggest accomplishment here.”
Lauren believes that SCB taught her discipline and how to take criticism constructively, not personally.
“Ballet’s helped me become more comfortable with myself. I’ve learned to incorporate what I learn in the studio in other aspects of my life,” she said.
Lauren advises the younger girls to take ballet seriously if it is something they want to pursue.
“Don’t mess around, and respect your teachers,” she said. “If you really want to dance, then follow your heart and stay on task.”
Taylor Aitken will be majoring in anthropology at Sonoma State.
“I’m not going to continue dancing,” she said. “Although it’s something I enjoyed doing, it isn’t something I want to pursue as a career. I’m going to miss rehearsals, especially getting to be with all my friends during the run throughs. You’re there for so much of the day, it’s kind of impossible not to form a strong bond with everyone here.”
Taylor’s favorite show has been Sleeping Beauty, where she danced as the Silver Jewel.
“For me, the Silver Jewel and Snow Queen were the two best dances I’ve had the chance to perform,” Taylor said.
Taylor started dancing when she was three, but by no means did she think that she would stick with it as long as she did.
“I wasn’t good at it,” she said simply. “The people there, that’s what made me stay. I’m glad I did because the longer I stayed the more I improved. I focused on what needed to get better, my arms, mostly. And it did improve, so I’d tell the younger girls not to give up. If something’s not good enough right now, it just means you have to work at it.”
Emma will be a trainee at Alonzo Lines Company in San Francisco.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “I fell in love with contemporary dance a few years back, and Maddie Devris, who’s been my inspiration since I was little, has been at Alonzo since she started contemporary. I started to show a little interest in it and it took off from there.”
Emma will focus on modern dance rather than ballet, but she is grateful for her ballet foundation.
“I’ve been here for 11 years so it’s hard to think of a specific memory that’s my favorite, but I love performances,” Emma said. “My first lead role was Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty, which will stay my favorite because I got to be evil.”
For Emma, her time at SCB has been spent finding her own artistic voice.
“I realized what I want in life and a dance career,” Emma said. “I’m looking forward to expanding out in the world of dance.”
Elida will be spending the next year exploring dance opportunities in Los Angeles before attending the Alvin Ailey program in New York the following year.
“I came to Santa Clarita Ballet when I was 5 and chose to stay because of all the studios I tried, this one had the best training and the best environment,” she said. Her choice paid off, and Elida went on to placing top 24 in the Youth Annual Grand Prix, as well as dancing Alice in Alice in Wonderland. Elida did not get where she is now without hours of hard work.
“When I realized dance was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I put 2-3 hours outside of class every day,” Elida said. “I would stretch in the morning, do exercises with my feet, and do pointe outside. As I got older, I took class every single day no matter what. If there was no class Sunday I’d go down to LA and take a 2 and a half hour class.”
All this work had led Elida to realize the artistic value of what she does.
“When I was younger, my dancing was more superficial. It wasn’t coming from anywhere. As I got older, I realized the artistry of dance, and the teachers here really cultivated that,” she said. “You’re not just moving your arms or your feet, you’re creating actual art, and once you realize that, the love for dance only grows.”
Dakota will be attending U.C. Santa Barbara where she will major in dance. Dakota started with SCB at the age of three, but a couple years back her family moved to Germany. Thankfully, Dakota returned to finish her final year with the company.
“Germany offered a different perspective, which was cool. I really missed this studio, so it’s been amazing to finish my dance career before I go out in the real world,” Dakota said. “In Germany, I was dancing, but I wasn’t being pushed as hard, and I think I lost a couple things. Just spending a year back here, I’ve learned so much and gotten stronger and more flexible.”
Dakota began dancing when she was young, along with a couple of other extracurriculars.
“I tried soccer, but the first time I performed here, I had such a blast with the dancing and the makeup and the costumes,” Dakota said. “And as I got older, I thought, ‘Yeah, this is something I can do for a career.”
Dakota’s favorite role is the Spanish dancer in The Nutcracker.
“When I was little I loved watching the Spanish dancers and I told myself that I would be one later, and then I got it, and I was overjoyed,” she said.
Dakota advises that the younger girls don’t fall into the trap of comparing themselves with others.
“I struggled with seeing other girls who were better than me, more flexible. I sorta got down on myself. But everyone is different, no one has the same body type of flexibility. You are different, and you are amazing no matter what.”
For Sofia, going UCSB has been a goal of hers since she was seven. This fall, she will be attending her dream school to major in dance her freshman year, and she intends to double major the next year in environmental studies.
“I started dancing because of my older sister when I was little, but I had no idea how much of a commitment it would be,” Sofia said. “Juggling everything was difficult, but it’s always been natural just to be dancing, and it’s something I never want to let go of.”
In her 15 years at SCB, Sofia’s favorite role has been Flower Queen.
“I didn’t realize i wanted to do dance in college until this year when I was deciding which schools I was going to,” Sofia said. “I’ve always wanted to dance, but I also wanted to have a career in science. UCSB gives me that opportunity to keep dancing and studying and meeting new people.”
Sofia’s glad that she stuck with dance and completing her time at SCB with passion and determination.
“I think younger girls need to know that there are so many opportunities with dance in college and in life. It gives you something special about yourself. People notice it and admire it. It makes you unique.”