Drive. Dedication. Passion.
Giggles. Friendship. Youth.
Such different words, yet they all fit together for the dancers at Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy in Laguna Hills. I had a chance to sit down and talk with a dozen of the students performing in this weekend's production of "The Nutcracker," and I don't recall ever meeting a more impressive group of teens.
Let's start with Quinn Mason of Huntington Beach. This 18-year-old Sugar Plum Fairy hopes to be with a ballet company some day, but she's also planning to go into the medical field, most likely physical therapy, after her dance career.
Lauren Denney, 15, who shares the role of Sugar Plum Fairy with Mason, attends San Clemente High School on top of her demanding schedule at the studio.
Then there are the three Maries — Nora Clemente, Victoria Yacap and Sofia Haase, all 14. They want to audition for a company in the future, but say missing college is not an option. For right now though, they all juggle high school and dancing.