MVP on pointe


The world of dance can be just as demanding as any major league sport. The main difference between a sports athlete and a dancer? Pointed toes and the ability to fall gracefully. Many dancers have both, but ballerina-turned-commercial dancer, Alisa Carreras, stands out among the rest.

“I think she’s probably one of the best technicians we have here right now,” Pamela Santelman, dance professor and department director, said.

In an attempt to calm her attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Carreras’s parents enrolled her in her first ballet class at the age of nine in the hopes that she would learn some discipline.

Alisa mainly stuck to ballet as she danced on and off for the next 10 years. However, in the past two years she has branched out, and in that time, Alisa has already proven to her instructors and peers that she has talent and grace that transcends genre.

“She’s one of our very advanced dancers, in ballet and jazz mostly, and she’s just now begun modern. She’s extremely reliable, she’s a beautiful dancer-very advanced,” Santelman said.

Alisa was showcased in Santelman’s piece for The American College Dance Festival Association’s 40th Anniversary Conference (ACDFA) last spring. which was hosted here at EC.

“I’ve worked with her for three years in what we call our Advanced Dance Concert; every semester the faculty and some chosen students choreograph it. They go through auditions and must be chosen, and that’s where she’s been dancing for the past three years.” Santelman said. “She came in advanced.”

“She’s always there, she shows up, she remembers the choreography – I think she’s definitely going to go somewhere,” Santelman added. “I don’t know if she’ll end up getting a degree in dance and go on or if she’ll end up being a professional dancer but either way she’s going to be successful.”

Currently Alisa is most excited to be involved in a piece by Scarlett Hubberd, a student choreographer. The narrative is based on Hubberd’s autistic brother and involves great use of emotions.

“She’s very talented,” Alisa said. “It’s exciting to meet people in the class that obviously want to do the same thing that you want to do but have different skill sets and levels.”

Now 20 years old and in her third year at EC,
Carreras has changed her focus from ballet to jazz. Her future plans involve
transferring to either Chapman University or Cal State Long Beach. However, even as she looks forward, Carreras appreciates the people that helped her get here.

the teachers here at El Camino, all the dance instructors, aren’t just
teachers but also mentors,” she said. “I’m always in their offices
asking them for advice, even about things
that don’t have to do with dance. They’re like my dance parents.”

And like any other parents, Carreras’s teachers look forward to great things from her.

“We’re very excited about her prospects for the future,” Daniel Berney, professor of dance and department director, said. “She’s on the verge of getting an extended tour in China – to perform and also teach.”

“She’s probably the most likely to succeed in a professional environment, she’s strong in the technical areas, and has a high level of performance artistry,” he added. “Probably if we were an athletic team, she would be our most valuable player.”