Camas dancer is on pointe

nstructor earns American Ballet Theatre certification

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Diana Alcomendas enjoys teaching children in an American Ballet Theatre Level 1 class, accompanied by live piano music at the Virtuosity Performing Arts Studio, in Camas. Alcomendas, the dance director for Virtuosity, has earned certifications through the theatre's national training curriculum.

Diana Alcomendas remembers participating in a children’s TV show at the age of 5, in the Philippines. She and her sister Lea, 7, performed ballet along with other children.

Alcomendas, 29, still recalls seeing the “stage mothers,” who attempted to convince the youngsters to smile and perform in a particular way.

Then and now, Alcomendas prefers that children be allowed to enjoy their performances. As the dance director for the Virtuosity Performing Arts Studio, she can do just that.

This year, Alcomendas earned certifications as an American Ballet Theatre teacher after she successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Levels 3 and 5 of the theatre’s national training curriculum. The eight-level program combines artistic training with the basics of dancer health and child development.

The ABT curriculum – for ages 5 and older – was incorporated into Virtuosity’s schedule in the summer.

“The American Ballet Theatre is very respected,” Alcomendas said. “The kids really take it seriously.”

The ABT curriculum, which incorporates elements of the French, Italian and Russian schools of training, aims to assist beginning through advanced teachers in training dance students to use their bodies correctly – focusing on kinetics and coordination as well as anatomy and proper body alignment.

“The ABT national training curriculum is awesome,” Alcomendas said. “I can see the improvement in the kids.”

In February, she attended two weeks of daily lectures on topics such as nutrition, health and anatomy at the ABT, in New York City.

“It’s very difficult for a dance teacher to sit,” Alcomendas said.

In July, she attended eight days of lectures and observed summer intensive classes, at the ABT. Both series of lectures were followed by written and oral exams that instructors needed to pass in order to earn the various levels of certification.

Alcomendas estimates there were more than 60 attendees at the February sessions, and more than 80 at the classes in July.

“Not everyone passes,” she said.

Alcomendas has been involved in ballet most of her life. She has also enjoyed performing and teaching other dance styles including jazz, hip hop and step, and she has won awards for routines she choreographed.

Alcomendas has never stopped learning. She takes ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip hop and lyrical dance classes in Seattle, and trapeze training in California, Boston and New York.

Virtuosity classes, available for toddlers through adults, include creative dance, ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, hip-hop, modern, acro, lyrical and contemporary dance.

Virtuosity and the Vancouver Elite Gymnastics Academy, as well as the Fenian Academy of Fencing, are located in the former National Guard Armory building, at 840 N.W. 10th Ave., Camas. VEGA-North is at 6707 N.E. 117th Ave., Ste. “D,” Vancouver.

For more information, call 834-7424, e-mail or visit