Carmel dancer fulfills lifelong dream at U. of Arizona

Gliding across the mirrored ballet studio, a Carmel High School ballerina dances to the slow rhythm and gentle tune, painting a picture with her every movement.

Elise Cricchio, currently a senior at CHS, has been accepted into the University of Arizona school of dance. Since Cricchio was 10, she had a dream of becoming a professional ballerina, and with work, practice and tiresome competitions, she has gotten a step closer to that dream.

“When I was 10 I went to an audition for San Francisco ballet, and when I got in, that was the tipping point of when I knew I wanted to pursue ballet as a career,” Cricchio says. “It wasn’t just a love anymore, it was more of ‘I can make this the rest of my life.’”

After college, Cricchio has plans to audition for a ballet company and, she hopes, dance professionally for two to three years.

Cricchio’s long-term goal is to open up a dance studio of her own and as of now she has expanded to as many teaching positions as possible to give her more experience in becoming a dance instructor.

“I’ve seen her open herself up to all different styles of dance: contemporary, jazz and tap,” CHS dance teacher Kristine Tarozzi says. “I’ve seen her grow as a choreographer and as a person.”

The dancer says that she would like to pursue modern and pointe because it is not as competitive and strict as classical ballet. While in school she is planning to take all genres of dance offered.

Throughout the years, Cricchio has attended prestigious dance intensives including the San Francisco Ballet, Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Ellison Ballet.

There was a three-hour audition to get into University of Arizona. All applicants were required to take a ballet, jazz, and modern class. A number was given to each dancer while a panel of teachers watched the students, taking down numbers. Over 500 people auditioned to get into University of Arizona, but only 25 were accepted.

“University of Arizona is very unique because their dance program will alter to you depending on what you want to accomplish in life.” Cricchio also says that University of Arizona offers classes that prepare you to become a dance teacher if that is what you wish to do later on in life.

University of Arizona has a triple track program that specializes in jazz, modern and ballet.

They also offer pointe and musical theater, but that is not their main focus.

“I started teaching last year, and I’m still teaching now, and it has become one of my biggest passions besides dancing myself,” Cricchio says. “It’s something I know I want to do with the rest of my life.”

“She gets along with everyone and she pays attention to everyone when she teaches,” says Kristine Tarozzi, Cricchio’s CHS dance instructor. “She sees the bigger picture that people are in all different levels.”

Natalie Lobo has been dancing with Cricchio for six years, and the two of them have participated in 20 to 25 dances together—Cricchio bringing ballet to the table and Lobo jazz and contemporary.

“She has a natural look and feel of a ballerina,” Lobo says of Cricchio. “She has a lot of natural capabilities of a dancer, and it’s cool to see her portray that so well.”

Elise Cricchio has danced since she was 8 years old and has been competitively dancing since she was 9. As a freshman at CHS, Cricchio was placed into Dance 3.

-Asha Johnston