by Jennifer K. Rumple - Alameda Journal
July 9, 2010 - He's danced the last nine years of his life — the last six, mostly ballet.
An Alameda High School freshman at the time, Cameron Beene, 15, stood a bit nervous, performing his best tendus, pliés and pirouettes at an audition in San Francisco last February. Beene stretched his pointed foot across the floor, bent at the knees, then whirled around in a controlled spin to show the judges his skill was worthy of a summer intensive program at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. The judge standing over him, carefully watching Beene's every move while writing on a clipboard agreed.
"The guy kinda made me nervous. I'd totally mess up and do the wrong side (of my dance sequence). I didn't think I had done superbly well, so when I got the e-mail I was in, I was kinda shocked!" exclaimed Beene. "The 'performance' track is the highest at Joffrey. It's a lot tougher, and we have a performance at the end of the four weeks for our parents."
Beene is one of six Alameda Civic Ballet students accepted to hone their skills at various ballet school intensive programs across the nation this summer. Some will be headed to Alabama, others to Detroit and Austin. Beene and fellow Alameda High School sophomore Fiona Murphy, 15, are flying out to the Big Apple this weekend to train at the prestigious Joffrey.
"I'm looking forward to staying in an apartment with other students to learn from other dancers, improve technically and come back with an improved performance," said Murphy, who's been dancing for the civic ballet the last nine years. "We've been training pretty hard this summer before going so we don't get there and die from exhaustion. I'm just excited to experience something different and exploring the city."
(Alameda) Civic ballet students credit founder and artistic director Abra Rudisill for pushing them to audition and opening up their world to new experiences in dance and life. Rudisill said trying out for different ballet programs and dance roles is an important part to her students' growth as artists and people.
"And, with the summer intensives, each gets to perform and learn from dancers who may be stronger in certain areas. That way, they grow and become better themselves," explained Rudisill, who opened ACB off Park Street in 2004 after 20-years as a professional ballerina. "I'm proud of all my students and what they'll be representing and learning at each of these summer programs. They get upset sometimes that I'm so hard on them, but they see it's well worth it in the end."
Jasmine Miller, 14, who goes straight to the studio after school to train for two hours five nights a week, just like her fellow civic ballet dancers.
"Abra really prepares us. She sets really high standards and is always encouraging us to come to as many classes as possible to help us become better dancers," Miller said. "We all just want to experience something different and become better dancers in the process before coming back and putting it to use in our performances here in Alameda."