Alive Ballet Academy Reinvents Itself


Ballet shoes (Russian ballet school М. Исаева) Wiki Commons.

Liahna Sedillo, Sports

One of Honolulu’s premier dance studios for athletes and teachers, Alive Ballet Academy is preparing for an upcoming performance on May 16. It will be held at Kaimuki High School and is based on the theme of ‘Friendship’. 

The advanced level will dance both ballet as well as modern. The addition of modern classes is a part of other studio changes, including welcoming new teachers like Audrey Hummel. 

“My husband’s in the Navy and he was stationed here (in Hawaii),” she explains. “I was dancing with a company on the mainland and it just felt like the right time for something new.”

Hummel is excited to work for the progressive local studio.

I like teaching for small studios,” she says. “I feel like it’s a bit more individual with the students.”

Studio founder Maria Jose Beltran trained at Carmen Munoz,  Escuela Nacional del Peru and won a Bronze Medal in the International Ballet Competition in Trujillo Peru. She danced professionally for thirteen years in Peru, Chile, Germany, and the United States.  In 2008 she established Alive Ballet Academy in Honolulu, a school dedicated to the training of future ballet dancers and ballet teachers.

“We have a primary purpose: to serve the community through a structured and professional ballet program,” Beltran writes.

Due to health reasons, the academy’s former headteacher is taking time off.

The girls are very excited to be dancing with each other in this new spring performance and believe their friendship, which has grown immensely over the last several years, is what makes their dancing unique. 

“We all trust and support each other,” dancer Victoria Hung states. “Through each class, we strengthen our friendship and our love for ballet together.”

Member and staff teacher Otomi Tochika will be heading off to college soon, so this will be her last showcase dancing with the team.

One dancer is lifted above the others in a Winter performance at the Alive Ballet Academy. Studio athletes work to excel in three main categories: technique, artistry, and mindset. “Performances aim to showcase students’ technical abilities while also reaching out in an artistic manner to the essence of the human being,” founder Maria Jose Beltran writes. Photo by Liahna Sedillo 2020.

“I feel nervous as it’s my last performance with everyone but I have confidence that it will turn out well!“ she says. 

Dancing is an athletic discipline and, like other demanding sports, requires consistent and precise practice. Member Veronica Khamphaphanh understands the special demands of the sport first-hand. 

“I am actually very nervous about this upcoming performance because I barely go to ballet now so I’m not sure how things will turn out,” she explains. “I feel like I lost most of my technique just because I barely come to class.” 

Additional worries surround the studio as it moves in a new direction under a new headteacher. 

Dancer Mary Rose Mitchell is currently recovering from an injury. She had a joint tear and ligament damage in her left big toe, which has been keeping her away from the studio for three months. 

“I don’t know if I’m gonna be in it because of my toe and I’m sad because it’s Otomi’s last performance with us,” she states. 

Still, Mitchell is keeping her hopes up for the show.

“I love my dance friends and even if I don’t perform, I know they’re going to do great either way,” she concludes.