Local kids get the gift of dance and prepare to take the stage in the Nutcracker

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Students in a rural community are getting a crash course in ballet. In November they will take the stage with professional ballerinas. (KFSN)

Students in a rural community are getting a crash course in ballet. In November they will take the stage with professional ballerinas.

At Kings River Elementary rhythm is key and every step counts. Each and every one of the students have earned their place to be soldiers, mice, and ice skaters in the Nutcracker.

"We do not work with music, but we need to learn how many counts you do on the stage," said Yulyia Gamboni, ballet instructor.

Gamboni has less than two months to get them ready to perform at the Saroyan Theater. It's quite the feat, given the fact that these kids have little to no formal training.

"You'll be surprised, there are a lot of gifted students here. A lot and they just sometimes need to open the ability."

Autumn Perez is one of those gifted students with dreams of dancing professionally.

"The ballerinas dancing in their tutus and their shoes. I think it looks so pretty."

But normally, this kind of opportunity would be outreach.

"I've always wanted to do it, but my parents always said no because it's too expensive," said Perez.

It's the same story for many of her classmates. Some come from small towns like London and they are dancing their way out of poverty with help from the Valley Performing Arts Council which is providing these classes through a grant, free of charge.

"It's a gift they wouldn't have access otherwise," said Sherry Martin, Kings River Union Elementary principal.

It's the gift of dance and a chance to take the stage. And for Autumn, it has already led to a scholarship.
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