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For aspiring ballerinas, summer intensives can provide a leg up

Westside Ballet School - 3

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Ballet student Adele Hall stretches before a Level 6 class at Westside Ballet on Thursday, March 6, 2014. Hall was one of 90 students that tried out for Boston Ballet's summer intensive program in January at the Santa Monica dance studio.

Westside Ballet School - 5

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Ballet students Allegra Davis, left, Girogia Zabriskie and Erin Power rehearse choreography during a class at Westside Ballet School in Santa Monica.

Westside Ballet School - 7

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Ballet student Allegra Davis takes part in a Level 6 class on Thursday March 6, 2014. The school first opened in 1967.

Westside Ballet School - 8

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Dancers rehearse to piano during a class at Westside School of Ballet.

Westside Ballet School - 9

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Ballet student Girogia Zabriskie puts toe pads inside her pointe shoes before an advanced class at Westside Ballet School. Broken toes and tendonitis are common in ballet.

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Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Ballet student Sofia Roshin takes part in an advanced class at Westside School of Ballet in Santa Monica. In 2012, 15,600 people were employed as dancers in the U.S. and those numbers are projected to grow less than 1 percent a year for the next 10 years.

Minutes before her audition with Boston Ballet, 16-year-old Anna Barnes ran through her list of things to remember: Shoulders down, legs turned out, stretch. Oh, and keep the nerves in check.

"It's really hard," she said. "You can just go crazy in your mind and that never helps."

Barnes was one of about 90 aspiring dancers who gathered at Westside Ballet in
Santa Monica in late January to try out for Boston Ballet's summer intensive program.

Summer intensives, which run for several weeks at ballet companies across the country, are seen as a critical stepping stone for young dancers wanting make it in the ultra competitive professional ballet world. 

KPCC's Mary Plummer has the story

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