Shiny pink satin shoes, a gracefulness that could make a cat jealous, and miles of chiffon and taffeta -- what little girl hasn't dreamed of being a ballerina?
Dance schools are full of aspiring young hopefuls, but for many the original starry-eyed dream is diminished once the blisters set in. Few realize how much work it takes to become a ballerina.
Now beginning its inaugural season, The Pikes Peak Regional Youth Ballet is a program for those who are whole-heartedly prepared to take on the challenges offered by a potential career in dance. Girls and boys from all over Colorado Springs showed up to the youth ballet auditions held at the Fusion Pointe studios on August 16, ready to flaunt their talents.
"We had a very good turn-out, no pun intended," said Megan Yacko, the founder of Fusion Pointe and artistic director of the youth ballet. "We had children come all the way from Monument, northern Colorado Springs, Woodland Park and as far south as Pueblo. "
There was hardly a clumsy footed stumbler on the dance floor. Quite unlike the fussy, parent-goaded types that frequent classes at many typical dance school, these individuals had talent, determination and a surprising aptitude with French verbs.
Nicole Tomeo, 17, said that she auditioned for the youth ballet because of the program's diversity.
"I am trying to become a more versatile dancer," she said. "Fusion Pointe offers more than other places do."
Among the offerings of the program will be classical ballet in the Vagnova style, contemporary, African, and Balinese dance, and even yoga. According to Yacko, the Pikes Peak Regional Youth Ballet shares a "philosophical" similarity with other youth ballet programs. Most importantly, the program will do more than simply teach dancers how to chass and assembl. As important as technique and presentation are, Yacko wants the dancers to enjoy what they are doing.
An intensive program like the youth ballet is serious work for a group of individuals so young. So serious, in fact, that the boundary between adult-like dedication and carefree youth can be threatened.
"We have to be careful and make sure we instill a love of dance and the arts in the younger children," said Yacko. "They need to smile more. They need to dance more. We don't like to see the younger children lose their enthusiasm for movement. It's a delicate balance."
The age range for the program is wide. There are pre-ballet classes for children between four and seven. Pre-company starts at age eight and the Corps de Ballet is for ages 11 through 23. Yacko hopes the program will reach a size of 40 to 60 dancers -- a good size to stage ballets, but not so many that the dancers are bumping shoulders on the practice floor.
One of the most exciting elements of the school for Yacko is that, even at a young age, a child's wholehearted dedication can be apparent.
"It's hard to believe sometimes that a child at age 11 can have such a passion for something. It's a beautiful thing," she said.
For more information about The Pikes Peak Regional Youth Ballet and other contemporary dance and music courses offered at Fusion Pointe, call 632-7511 or stop by the studios at 2228 W. Pikes Peak Ave.
-- Tamara Matthews