Freshman dance prodigy looks to New York ballet options

Keeping CHS on its toes, freshman Elise Cricchio took a master dance class with the professionals of the California-based Smuin Ballet Company before they prepared for their newest show, XXTREMES, featured at the Sunset Center last weekend.

This is the second time Cricchio has danced with the company, after taking a master class before Smuin’s annual Christmas show this past winter.

The 15-year-old has been dancing for seven years, taking classes mostly at the Carmel Academy of Performing Arts. After participating on CAPA’s dance team in seventh grade, specializing mostly in jazz, Cricchio decided she wanted to only pursue ballet, with the aspiration of one day committing to a career in dance, preferably ballet.

“At CAPA I only do ballet,” Cricchio reveals. “Carmel High gives me the opportunity to do jazz, lyrical and other styles.”

The freshman does not see the master class as just another ballet class meant only for practice but as an opportunity to watch the company’s professional dancers and learn from them.

“I’m able to see the dancers and how they move,” Cricchio explains. “Then, how they take the choreography and make it their own.”

Cricchio has taken part in several summer dance intensives over the past few years, some of which have taken place at San Francisco Ballet, Gelsey Kirkland Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet. This coming summer, she will be attending Ellison Ballet in New York City, and she has applied to their year-round program with the hopes of boarding starting in the fall.

CHS dance teacher Kristine Tarozzi has been bringing her class to see Smuin perform since 2008; however, she has only arranged for one other student to take the company’s master class.

The first CHS alum to take the class with Smuin or to apply to a performing arts boarding school was Mackenzie King, who later attended Walnut Hill School for the Arts and, according to Tarozzi, is now studying at the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase.

Other former Padres have also pursued careers in dance, such as Katie Felsinger, graduate of U.C. Irvine, and more recently Dasol Kim and Erica Klein, who are both still attending high school. Kim is attending Orange County School for the Arts while dancing at Westside Dance Project, and Klein is using independent study while traveling to and from Los Angeles.

Ideally, Cricchio would like to perform with a classical ballet company, such as the New York City Ballet. One of her favorite choreographers is Russian-born George Balanchine, co-founder of the NYCB.

While she has the ambition to join a classical ballet company, possibly focusing in the Balanchine style, Cricchio is grateful for any opportunity that may come her way.

-Delaney King