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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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Freshman dances in dreams

Lights illuminate the dark theater to reveal dancers. Countless hours of practice pay off as they glide across the floor with graceful poise. For freshman Amanda Edwards, the toil and rewards of ballet affect her life every day.

“When I was two years old, my mom saw me dancing around,” Edwards said, “and she decided to put me in a ballet class. Since then, it’s been something I’ve always done and something I hope to do in the future.”

Edwards attends classes at the California Arts Academy (formerly Severance Ballet School and Cynthia Merrill School of Performing Arts) under direction of Carla Lippert. She practices six days a week, for a total of 17 hours. Her parents and older brother, Daniel, ’09, supports her ambitions.

“I’ve been watching her (Amanda) practice since she was 18 months old,” Daniel said, “so it’s exciting to see her onstage and how much she’s improved.”

In order to remain committed, Edwards makes sacrifices.

“I wanted to be in cheer or basketball,” Edwards said, “but I couldn’t because of ballet. It takes up too much time. My grades don’t seem to be as good as they used to be either.”

Edwards has already participated in over 30 performances and believes it offers a reward for months of hard work. She started performing in the Nutcracker at the Saroyan Theatre from the third through eighth grade. Edwards has also played the lead Clara, a doll, a Candy Cane and Chinese.

“Performances are better than practices,” Edwards said. “People get to see how far you have come with your style and attitude of your dance. I don’t usually get nervous because the lights are so bright and the audience is so dark that you can?t really see their faces.”

Though her mom originally inspired her to dance, ballet has become Edward’s personal career choice.

“My goal in the future is to become a professional ballerina at the San Francisco Ballet,” Edwards said. “I want to continue doing ballet until I’m too old to dance.”

This past December, Edwards chose not to perform with the Nutcracker, instead volunteering with inner city kids at the Mosqueda Center in the Sunnyside area of Fresno. However, on March 18-20, she will assist these same kids with the presentation of Hanzel and Gretel with the Fresno Junior Opera League.

Additionally, the San Francisco Ballet Company has accepted Edwards for a summer intensive workshop beginning June 25 for five weeks, living in the dorms.

In addition to preparing for her upcoming performance, Edwards continues to train for the West Sierra League (WSL) Talent Show on March 1. She is one of two finalists that will represent Fresno Christian. The other is junior Taylor Torrence.

“I didn’t understand how difficult dancing is,” Danielle Wilborn, ’08, said, “and how much determination it requires to take ballet.”

For more information, go online to the California Arts Academy website at While the home website is still under construction, interested viewers can scroll through the new home of Severance Fresno Ballet School and the Cynthia Merrill School of Performing Arts. The combined phone number is (559) 222-6539.

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