Former student hired by ballet company

Joyce Ho

Almost every little girl wants to be a ballerina.

For former Cal High student Katherine Damiano, this dream has become a reality as she is the youngest member of the Parthenon Ballet Company.

After attending a summer workshop for a dance scholarship following her junior year, Damiano was hired professionally this fall by the Parthenon Classical Arts Center’s ballet company in Vacaville.

In order to be at the studio dancing five days a week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Damiano is finishing her senior year at Venture and DVC instead of at Cal.

“I didn’t think I’d make it this far,” Damiano said.  “This was my dream that I thought was unattainable, but I get to live (it).”

A typical day for Damiano at the dance studio consists of practicing her ballet technique, fencing, ballroom dancing, and partnering.

“During the first half of the year, we’re going to be training,” said Damiano.  “For the second half, we’re going to be putting on shows.”

The shows will be either original ballet pieces or modernized versions of older ballet pieces.  The company’s goal is to showcase new things.

Damiano’s company director is also currently organizing a fall fundraiser show.

Although Damiano does have some free time during the week, she says the company expects a lot, and dance must be her first priority. Her own drive to be better is one her main motivations.

“I set the bar high,” said Damiano.

Damiano’s mother, Lynette Damiano, is very proud and supportive of her daughter’s decision to become a professional ballerina.

“It is wonderful to see her blossom into a confident, talented, young dancer,” said Lynette Damiano.

Senior Vida Barco, Damiano’s neighbor, also believes her friend has the talent and traits to be a successful dancer.

“(She’s) bold, smart, intelligent, and outspoken,” said Barco.

Although Damiano has tried other dance styles, classical ballet is her clear favorite.

“(Ballet’s) my thing,” said Damiano.

Cal dance teacher Ryane Siegel has seen Damiano dance many other styles and noted her exceptional stage presence, but she said Damiano’s performance in the “Nutcracker” stood out significantly.

“She danced beautifully,” said Siegel, who taught Damiano two years ago in Dance 5. “One thing that really stands out in my mind was her creativity and beautiful choreography.”

Damiano was introduced to ballet when her mom signed her up for classes at age five.  Initially, she disliked it and quit shortly after.

“She got upset because the teacher had to always wait for the other girls to stop fooling around,” her mom said. “When she went back after she was 10 years old, she was determined to learn how to dance on ‘pointe’ and wouldn’t let anything prevent her from dancing.”

Now, she has been dancing for a total of 10 years.

Damiano’s dedication and commitment for dance were shown last year on prom night, when she also had a spring showcase.

After performing, she quickly changed her hair and adjusted her make-up.

She arrived half-an-hour late, but still in time to enjoy the night.

Before being hired by Parthenon, Damiano danced with the senior ballet company at the San Ramon Valley Dance Academy her junior year and with their junior ballet company in eighth grade.  During this time, she attended many competitions, and her company as a whole received many awards and recognition.

At these competitions, Damiano won scholarships, including one at the NUVO dance competition.

In addition to dancing, Damiano is an art lover, self-proclaimed math geek, and exceptional science student.

Science teacher Lisa Breton calls her an incredibly well-rounded model student.

“She’s very lively, and brings a lot of life to the classroom,” said Breton.

Breton and Siegel both mentioned Damiano’s amazing aptitude for art as well.

Senior Courtney Glickman, who met Damiano in P.E. during their freshmen year, also saw the makings of a star in her many talents and skills.

Since Damiano does not see herself working for a professional ballet company for the rest of her life, she hopes to attend St. Mary’s College in the future.

Though she isn’t sure what direction she will take exactly, she’s interested in science and engineering, but does not plan t o abandon her passion.

“I’d love to be still dancing,” said Damiano.

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