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Wherever her good feet take her

Professional ballerina comes back to Santa Clarita to dance guest role in ‘Swan Lake’

Posted: September 15, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 15, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Ballerina Season DeAngelis as Odette, the Swan Queen, and Raydel Caceres as the Prince Siegfried rehearse "Swan Lake" at the Santa Clarita Ballet Academy in Canyon Country.

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With her hair pulled back into a low, blond bun, Season Winquest De Angelis spun on a pointed toe, laced to the ankle in powder pink ballet shoes.

Dancing almost noiselessly across the wood floor, the Santa Clarita Valley native thoughtfully performed each move during her rehearsal at the Santa Clarita Ballet Academy in Canyon Country.

In a white, jeweled bodice and feathered tutu, the 23-year-old stretched an arm sideways and let her neck slowly fall parallel, mimicking a swan.

Winquest De Angelis grew up dancing with the local company, leaving when she was 17 to pursue her professional career. This week, she came back, as she periodically does, for a guest role in “Swan Lake” with the company she likens to family.

“I love ballet because you can express all your emotions,” Winquest De Angelis said.

Her energy and ability to funnel emotion into different roles has taken her from a Santa Clarita studio across the country and back again.


Baby steps

Winquest De Angelis started with Santa Clarita Ballet when she was 3 years old and grew up in that studio.

Throughout her years, Winquest De Angelis danced in “The Nutcracker” almost every year and took star roles in many productions, said Corinne Glover, executive director of the company.

The young dancer exhibited the ability to become a professional dancer very early, she said.

“She had all the ingredients you need,” she said.

After years of watching her grow, Glover said Winquest De Angelis has become a lovely dancer who brings a lot of energy to a performance and is dynamic on stage.

“And she had great feet. You have to have good feet,” Glover said.

A foot with a pronounced arch makes “good feet” because the toe is well-defined, she said.

But beside her foot structure, Winquest De Angelis has the in-demand ability to interpret a range of roles, Glover said.

“In ‘Swan Lake,’ she will play an ethereal, regal swan, but she can also act the crazy comedy of Shakespeare (in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’),” she said.

That is what makes a prima ballerina, Glover said, along with the right physical attributes and an “unidentifiable special quality.”

And at age 17, Winquest De Angelis decided the next natural step was to train with a professional ballet company.


Homegrown pro

After graduating from Hart High School, Winquest De Angelis went on to learn under the Boston Ballet.

“All your training builds up to making a professional company,” Winquest De Angelis said. “But it was very different (than Santa Clarita Ballet).”

In a larger company, she explained there is less focus and attention on each ballerina, though often a large sense of camaraderie.

“I went from being a big fish in a small pond to a very small fish in a very big pond,” Winquest De Angelis said.
Dancers from around the world trained alongside her, and competition was fiercer than she was used to.

“My upbringing at Santa Clarita Ballet helped me have confidence. I wasn’t devastated if I didn’t get the part I wanted,” she said.

After Boston, Winquest De Angelis trained with the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, which Glover described as the equivalent of “Juilliard for musicians.” Once finishing with Joffrey, however, she wanted something more intimate, and she missed Los Angeles.

When Winquest De Angelis came back to L.A., she danced with a few small freelance companies and a company in Santa Barbara.

Now, Winquest De Angelis works with a few startup companies in L.A. and auditions for TV and commercial roles as a dancer, appearing in an episode of “Glee.”

The startups, different from her experience at the larger companies, provide individualized teaching.

“The directors are involved with every single person. I get a lot of time to practice, rehearse and nitpick everything,” she said. “In larger companies, you often have to guide yourself.”

She said the smaller companies are extremely invested in her success.

“Everything is riding on your performance because they need your support,” she said.

And all her recent experiences are preparing her for her next big step.

The next dance

Next year, Winquest De Angelis plans to audition for a major company, looking for to learn from peers and teachers in a professional environment.

“I have the startups under my belt, and I’d like to take that training with me to a larger company,” she said.

Recently married, Winquest De Angelis also has plans to start a family — but after she goes as far as she possibly can, she said. Once she has a family, however, she would like to teach.

“I’ve done some teaching, and I enjoy sharing my secrets and stories with them,” she said.

But for now, the local dancer is happy to return to her family and friends.

“It’s like coming back for Thanksgiving — you see all the family you’ve been missing for a long time,” she said. “I love them so much because they got me where I am today.”

Regarding the young dancer as her own daughter, Glover says Winquest De Angelis’ career is just beginning, and she will grow immensely as a dancer in years to come.

“I’ll follow her wherever her good feet take her,” Glover said.


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