Dancer’s dream jetés into reality
Alisha Cardenas instructs Alexa Angelucci during a class at the Central New Jersey Ballet Theater.
Alisha Cardenas’s dancer dreams came true four years ago when she became the director and owner of the Central New Jersey Ballet Theater in Bordentown.
She’s been involved with dance for much of her life, and she even studied it in college at the University of Georgia. Cardenas said she still keeps in touch with her old teachers from the Athens, Georgia school.
Cardenas’s training includes the Georgia Ballet, the Bravo Dance Center, and the Kennesaw School of Dance. She was accepted into and attended the Cobb County School of Performing Arts, majoring in dance and minoring in drama/theater. After high school she was accepted into the University of Georgia’s performance company, the UGA Ballet Ensemble.
This past October, Cardenas combined her love of ballet and her alma mater when she took eight CNJBT students to UGA for Ballet Day. “We performed for the community of Athens. It was really cool,” she said. “They had a day of college dance experience. They took classes, attended a lecture, went to rehearsals, another lecture, a performance, and we went out to dinner. That is the life of a dancer. You are always in class and then you perform.”
Cardenas hopes to instill her passion for dance in all of her students. “I try to give them big things while I try to get them to open their eyes to what is going to happen.”
Last month, the Central New Jersey Ballet Theater performed The Nutcracker at Villa Victoria Academy, and the company danced at Bordentown City’s tree lighting ceremony. They have time to relax a little in January, as they regroup for their next big production: “Cinderella.”
The cast list has already been announced for the major parts, but Cardenas always welcomes new dancers. It is not too late to sign up for lessons at Central New Jersey Ballet. “We have two very incredibly talented students” who will be dancing the lead roles: Erin Ryan as Cinderella and Alexa Angelucci as the Fairy Godmother. “They have come through the ranks and are performing at the national level.”
This month, Cardenas will take a select group of students to the Youth America Grand Prix competition in Philadelphia, even though she said she doesn’t normally do competitions with her students. “We are not a huge ballet school.” However, Cardenas recognizes the competition is close to Bordentown this year, and “it is the best in the nation. They will get a lot of attention. They get a lot of exposure they would not get anywhere else. They are a very talented group and I take it seriously.”
The CNJBT will bring a group of seven dancers: a trio, an ensemble piece, and three soloists. Ryan and Angelucci will enter the senior division, and Tanner Hutchinson an 11–year-old, will compete in the pre-competition level. “She is phenomenal,” enthuses Cardenas. “We hope they all do well.”
Cardenas is proud of her dancers. “We are only four years old and we are puffing out these little artists. We breathe results. Our kids get into programs around the nation.” Past students who have trained with Cardenas have gone on to programs such as the American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet in New York, The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia, the Rockettes Summer Intensive and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy.
Classes are offered for students from ages 2 ½ to 18 in a wide variety of dance styles, including ballet, pointe, repertory, modern and contemporary dance, jazz, hip-hop, tap, and acting.
Central New Jersey Ballet Theatre, 146 Route 130, Bordentown. Phone: (609) 424-3192. On the web: cnjballet.com