For Young, teaching is a role she has mastered
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinals“It’s interesting. Teaching is a performance,” she said. “To keep students engaged, there’s more going on than day-to-day activities.” Young got her start on the dance floor at age 8, when her mother, concerned about her daughter’s posture, enrolled her in dance classes. She quickly found herself clicking away in tap class and shaking her hips in hula, but it was ballet that captivated her. By 10, she began to study ballet seriously at the University of Utah’s extension division. When her family moved to California two years later, she trained at the San Francisco Ballet School. When she was 15, she returned to Utah and joined Ballet West, a professional dance company that offered the teen a contract and a tour of Europe. “It was pretty exciting. It was truly a growing experience,” she said. “Part of it was frightening, but you are protected traveling with a group.” That dance group became her extended family for the next 10 years as she traveled with it to Greece, Spain and Italy, dancing in outdoor theaters sometimes until midnight. The work was hard. Time off was spent traveling by plane, train or bus to the next show. Sightseeing was impossible, she said. But along the way, Young transformed from a dancer among many on stage into the lead performer. She also fell in love with another dancer and moved with him to Los Angeles when she was 25. She continued performing for the next eight years, opened up a small dance studio that evolved into the Pasadena Dance Theater and was a choreographer for small dance companies across the country. By the time she was 37, Young decided that she had professionally danced her last dance. “I had danced all the roles I had wanted to dance,” she said. “I was gratified by my career.” Young continues to stretch as she tells her story, rolling on her back and lifting her legs high into the air, when suddenly she sees the clock. It’s 10:40 a.m. Time for class. She whisks down the hall and enters the class full of young dancers warming up at the barre. Taking her place at the front of the room, she slides her feet to the side and then fluidly behind her, showing her class members the moves they will practice. Taking her cue at the piano, Sharon Lam begins to play. Lam peers over her piano and watches Young and the students at work. “The kids learn a lot from her,” Lam says, nodding to Young, who takes a student’s hand and tells her to relax it. Down the hall from Young’s office sits Colin Connor, who teaches contemporary dance and composition. He has worked with Young for five years and said it’s inspiring to watch her with her students. “She has a lot of integrity,” he said. “She’s very gracious.” firstname.lastname@example.org (661) 257-5254160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! VALENCIA – It’s 25 minutes before her Thursday ballet class and Cynthia Young is stretching out on a mat inside the Pilates room. She rubs her bare feet over a small orange ball and talks about her life, her professional start in dance at age 15 and how she arrived at the California Institute of the Arts 10 years ago to teach. Her body, small and tight from years of conditioning, falls into the exercises easily as she pulls her legs to the side and stretches her arms over them. The 50-year-old loosens up with the warm-up every day. And though her days of dancing across stages before audiences have passed, Young said her performances really have not.