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Amazing Kids! of the Month

Amazing Kids! is proud to highlight the Amazing Kids! of the Month!

Each month, we showcase kids who are accomplishing amazing things.  We hope that by telling their special stories, we will inspire other kids to accomplish their own amazing achievements. 

Amazing Kids! of the Month for July, 2001: 
Amazing Ballet Dancers, Westside Ballet, Santa Monica, California!

Photo by Todd Lechtik

Quotes of the Month:

"Anyone who gives everything in them[selves], who tries their best, is an inspiration to me."

Jeanne Jacobson, age 17 
Ballet Dancer
Westide Ballet

"Dancing has showed me what it feels like to work hard and strive for a goal.  It has affected me in all aspects of my life by teaching me that motivation is the path to success." 

Stayce Camparo, age 18
Ballet Dancer
Westside Ballet

Happy Summer 2001!  Amazing Kids! is delighted to feature our Amazing Kids! of the Month for July:  the budding ballet dancers of the Westside Ballet Company, Santa Monica, California!  These talented dancers are an inspiration for young aspiring dancers everywhere.  Because many of them hope to become professional ballet dancers some day, they work very hard, studying with their dedicated teachers from the Westside Ballet three hours a day, six days a week! 

All it takes is one visit to one of their outstanding performances and you will see how their hard work pays off.  Not only are their performances beautiful, but many of the dancers receive full scholarships and go on to dance professionally with the some of the best ballet companies in the United States! 

The dancers perform in several shows per year, including their kick-off performance of the season on Thanksgiving weekend, a yearly sold-out performance of the Nutcracker, and a Spring concert.

Below you will read about the Westside Ballet, it's amazing founder and artistic director, Yvonne Mounsey, and you will read why 2 young dancers from the Westside Ballet love dancing so much! If you love dancing, their stories are sure to inspire you!  Remember:  if you work hard, and never give up your dream, you could become a professional dancer someday too! 

31st anniversary performance of the Nutcracker, 
Westside Ballet Company, 2000

Table of Contents 





The Westside Ballet (, a non-profit organization located in Santa Monica, California, was founded in 1970 by Yvonne Mounsey and Rosemary Valaire.  It is one of the nation's premier ballet training companies for young aspiring dancers ages 8 through 18.  It was the dream of the founders to give their advanced students more opportunities to perform. 
Photo by Steve Mason
Photo by Steve Mason
Westside Ballet Alumni Melissa Barak, New York City Ballet (left) and 
Michael Shannon, Bolshoi Ballet (right)

The company has grown over the years to its current size of approximately 80 dancers, which includes both students and professionals.  One of the company's main strengths is its performances of beautiful, meticulously choreographed productions of classical ballets, such as Sleeping Beauty, Les Sylphides and the full-length Coppelia.  Their annual Spring performances also feature original pieces created by Yvonne Mounsey and Rosemary Valaire (former co-artistic director).  And of course, their annual holiday performance of the Nutcracker is a Southern California tradition.  The company has been performing the Nutcracker for over 25 years!

Photo by Steve Mason
Westside Ballet Alumnus Monique Munier 
New York City Ballet



Yvonne Mounsey,
Founder/Artistic Director,
Westside Ballet

Yvonne Mounsey is the amazing, dedicated artistic director of the Westside Ballet.  She co-founded the Westide Ballet in 1970, after a long, distringuished career as a professional ballet dancer.  Ms. Mounsey joined New York City Ballet as a principal dancer for one of the most famous and highly-esteemed choreographer of all times, George Balanchine, after performing with Massine's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and de Basil's Original Ballet Russe.

During her distinguished 10-year career with New York City Ballet, performing in all the major capitals of the world, Ms. Mounsey created many roles, among them The Harp in Fanfare, The Queen in The Cage (Robbins), and The Other Woman in Lilac Garden (Tudor). Her performances were much acclaimed, particularly her Siren in Balanchine's Prodigal Son. She also performed notably in 1st Movement Western Symphony, 4th Movement Symphony in C and Serenade (Balanchine).

In 1960, Ms. Mounsey co-founded the Johannesburg City Ballet, now Pact Ballet, one of the world's major dance companies. Today, her coaching and choreography at Westside Ballet continue the Balanchine tradition.  Her love and dedication for her students is inspiring!

Read Ms. Mounsey's personal message about the Westside Ballet on the Westside Ballet website. 

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Photo by Todd Lechtik
Jeanne Jacobson, age 17 
Dancer, the Westside Ballet

     "Ballet is important to me because it gives me the ability to soar into another universe, without using speech. While preparing for a role, you get the un-earthly ability to think out your character's actions long before they are again repeated with the situation. There is something altogether familiar about the repeated and rehearsed actions that let it become easier to open up and become more open with an audience. It is the spontaneity in performance that becomes truly one's personal mark upon that evening. How your interpretation of the role is received by all in the audience somehow doesn't matter in the end. Itís that you were given the opportunity to touch even one or two people, to connect with them, without even talking to them. Above all things, dance for me is a way of communicating through a beautiful art.

     "No one can possibly inspire me more than a fellow dancer who just loves to dance as much as I do. I am fortunate to be surrounded by such people everyday when I take class.  My teachers, my classmates, and those younger than me who, perhaps haven't thought about why it is that they enjoy coming to a class week after week to be criticized to music. Maybe thatís why some people think that dancers are crazy- we endlessly chase the illusive goal of perfection, but fall short, day after day mostly in our own eyes. Anyone who gives everything in them[selves], who tries their best, is an inspiration to me. Those who do not are in danger of losing their love for such a beautiful and precious thing that is so powerful as to take you to another world. To have the option of escaping, embarking, or discovering a great adventure inside themselves day after day. 

     "I don't remember when this idea wedged itself in my brain, but somewhere along my early years as a dancer, I picked up the notion that I could do this wonderful thing as a living. It has been my dream to be a professional ballet dancer, for as long as I can remember. I have worked hard, everyday to reach that goal, but I know that in life things often do not go as planned. I think it would be great to teach ballet, to pass on the humble knowledge that I have acquired from others more wise and talented than I.  On several occasions I have spoken to a friend of possibly having a studio together when we grow up. That would be wonderful. 

     "As far as my other interests that could take the lead in my life, if dance had to take a side step, photography would have to be the strongest.  In a way, taking pictures of people can do the same thing as dance, by communicating without words.  More importantly, it can capture the moment forever. Whatever happens, these two wonderful forms of visual communication will remain an essential part of my life forever."

Jeanne Jacobson
Age: 17
(Jeanne began dancing at age 7.)

Editor's Note:  Jeanne will be attending a Summer Training Program with American Ballet Theatre this summer!  Good luck, Jeanne!

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Photo by Todd Lechtik
Stayce Camparo, age 18 
Dancer, the Westside Ballet

     "Ever since I was three years old, I have been listening to piano music echo off the rosin-stained floors of my ballet studio.  Although it started as simply spinning in a pink tutu, ballet has become much more to me; it has become a way of life. 

     "Some argue that ballet is simply another sport, like gymnastics or figure skating, however I believe it is better classified as an art. Ballet is unique in that it unites the visual, musical, and theatrical arts; in concert with the music, the dancer's body creates a visual representation of various emotions, often while telling a story.  I am especially aware of this when performing.  As I hear the music and realize that all eyes are on me, I feel an obligation to the audience.  They have come here to watch me tell them a story and take them into a fantasy world.  I know that ballet is not just technique, but how the dancer makes the audience feel. 

     "Someday I hope to dance with a major ballet company.  But whatever my future holds, I know I will always dance.  Dancing has showed me what it feels like to work hard and strive for a goal.  It has affected me in all aspects of my life by teaching me that motivation is the path to success." 

Stayce Camparo
Age:  18
(Stayce began dancing at age 3.)

Editor's Note:  Stayce will be attending a Summer Training Program with Pacific Northwest Ballet Company this summer!  Good luck, Stayce!

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The 2001-2002 Season for the Westside Ballet premieres on Thanksgiving weekend, November 24 and 25, 2001.  For ticket information, or to learn more about the Westide Ballet, contact them directly at:


1709 Stewart Street
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone: (310) 828-2018

Fax: (310) 828-8822



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A Special Message from Amazing Kids! for all you kids:

It's no secret...every person has an "amazing-ness" inside of them, just waiting to be discovered.  (Sometimes we just need a little help in finding out what that "amazing-ness" is!) 

If you are doing some amazing things too, we want to hear about it!  Send us your stories about your amazing accomplishments, so we can tell the world just how amazing you are!  We are always looking for new stories.  And don't be shy!  We'd love to hear from you!

Here's an idea you might want to try:


If you know someone who needs a little encouragement, why not tell them what you think is special about them?  Maybe you can be the one to help them uncover their own special talents! 

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