Dancers to join Czech Republic company

California Dance Arts’ couple will head to the Czech Republic after local performance in the “The Snow Queen.”

December 06, 2007|By Mary O’Keefe

Martha Graham said, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul.” That is true — it is an art form that has been used to express the feelings of hope, despair and love since the beginning of civilization. But the fact is that dance is also very hard work that requires dedication and, as in most art forms, sacrifice.

“I lost a lot of my social life,” said 19-year-old La Cañada dancer Ryan Morrison. “When friends would ask if I could go here or there I would have to say, ‘no I have dance class.’”

For Morrison, hard work and sacrifice has paid off. He has reached the ultimate goal of making a living doing something he loves: he has accepted a position in the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre Ostrava Ballet in the Czech Republic.


It all began after ballet master Yehuda Maor was a guest instructor at La Cañada’s California Theatrical Youth Ballet and California Dance Arts, where Morrision has been studying dance with director Erin Holt for 12 years. Holt had met Maor when she was in the Czech Republic as a guest dance instructor/choreographer.

“[Maor] went back to the Czech Republic last year and began teaching. When the company said they were looking for guys he told them about me,” Morrison said. “He had taken a video of my dancing and showed it to [the directors of the theater].”

The directors then asked if Morrison could come to the Czech Republic to meet with them personally. He traveled there with Holt, who had been invited to the National Theatre as an instructor.

“I was a guest choreographer and teacher during their summer workshop,” Holt said. While there with Holt, Morrison met with the directors and was offered a contract.

“They perform ballets and operas and even work with handicapped children,” Morrison said.

The company did not simply get a wonderful and talented male dancer but ended up also getting a beautiful and equally talented female dancer when they signed Morrison, Holt said.

How did that happen? Dance is about sacrifice but there are some perks along the way: “I am surrounded by beautiful girls,” Morrison said. One girl in particular caught his eye and his heart. He is engaged to 20-year-old Alyssa Thompson, who began at the La Cañada dance studio seven years ago. Thompson has accepted an apprentice offer with the National Theatre. “When [the theater directors] found out we were a couple they offered me the apprenticeship,” she said.

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