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Talent, dedication puts SoCal students on stage at Disney Hall

LA School Report | April 2, 2015



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By Jeffery Fleishman | Los Angeles Times

In a studio where wall-length mirrors laid bare imperfections, a young ballerina floated in deceptive grace. “Balance,” said her teacher. “Open shoulders, round the arms.” The dancer wiped the sweat away. Music cued, a slipper scraped like a whisper across the floor. She spun in pirouettes, again and again, to get it right.

Genevieve Waldorf has been dancing since she was 2. She accepts criticism and praise with an unwavering stare. A senior at El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills, where she is class valedictorian, Waldorf, 17, dances up to 20 hours a week and studies just as long. She is intrigued by bioengineering and has learned not to mind the calluses on her feet.

Waldorf was one of 14 student finalists from across Southern California who performed Tuesday evening in Walt Disney Concert Hall as part of the Music Center’s Spotlight program. Families carried bouquets, and the finalists, dressed in tutus, sequins and modern dance attire, took the stage for numbers that included classical piano, jazz, soliloquies and a song from “Funny Lady.”

The 27-year-old Spotlight arts education initiative has reached more than 40,000 high school students and handed out more than $1.5 million in scholarships. Spotlight’s musical training helps compensate for years of arts cutbacks in public schools.

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