SF Ballet School prepares for Student Showcase

San Francisco Ballet School students practice for the Student Showcase.

Students at the San Francisco Ballet School are putting the finishing touches on this year's showcase performance. It's a graduation dance. And for some, it's a rite of passage. ABC7 News has a sneak peek at some of the Bay Area's foremost burgeoning artists.

Juliet Doherty is rehearsing George Balanchine's Raymonda. Her part is the fourth solo. It's a ballet designed for professional dancers with years of experience. And, at 16, she's already mastering it.

Natasha Sheehan is even younger. She just turned 15 in Feb.

What's even more remarkable, this rapidly flourishing student has only been dancing for 4.5 years. Most of which have been on some of the most fertile ground, right here at the San Francisco Ballet School.

These budding performers are part of an elite, hand-picked group of dancers who hope to turn their dreams of dancing on stage into a reality.

And soon, that dream will come true. Like every spring, these ladies and their upper level peers who are ripe with talent will have that rare opportunity to perform this week at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

"We don't get to go on stage a lot as students," said Doherty. "We're very technically trained here. So when we get that chance to go on stage, we're all just nervous and excited to put a cap on everything that we did."

As they say, the only way to get to Carnegie Hall, or in this case San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House, is practice. But for an aspiring young dancer, when they're ready to take that professional leap, not all roads lead here.

"Of course, it's the cherry on the cake if you get picked to join the company," said SF Ballet School Associate Director Patrick Armand. "I suppose most of the students who come to SF Ballet, they want to join the company. But, you know, there are a lot of other good companies in the world."

At 19, Norika Matsuyama is one of a handful of dancers that has been plucked from the school to become an apprentice with the San Francisco Ballet. Temporarily sidelined by an appendix surgery, she expects to begin with the company in June.

For Juliet Doherty, Natasha Sheehan, and the others, once the curtain lowers and the footlights dim, it's back to the studio to continue their germination until next year's harvest.

The Student Showcase will be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater on May 28 at 7:30 p.m., May 29 at 6 p.m., and May 30 at 7:30 p.m.

For more details on the Student Showcase, click here.
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