Downey sixth grader stars in 'Nutcracker' ballet

DOWNEY - While most other children her age romp around the park or attend birthday parties, Angeline Bourgeault, of Downey, dances her heart out every Saturday, rehearsing as Clara for the Southern California Dance Theatre's production of "The Nutcracker" ballet to be performed at the Downey Civic Theatre the weekend before Christmas.While Angeline's feat is pretty remarkable for a dancer who is set to turn 10 years old on Dec. 10, it is not surprising. Currently a sixth grade GATE student at Connections Academy, Angeline has consistently made the school's honor roll, has won several awards and scored top marks in the STAR testing for the past three years. "We are very lucky that she catches on so quickly," said Angeline's father, a quiet man who works as the fire boat mechanic for the Los Angeles City Fire Department, Battalion No. 6. Angeline demonstrated her dance talents early on as her preschool teacher, Mrs. Ruhlen, encouraged Angeline's mom Lafleche to enroll her daughter in an activity that she could excel in as an individual. Ballet was the first choice and "it was a perfect fit" said Lafleche. As Angeline continued to advance in her dancing, her mom brought her to the Southern California Dance Academy in 2010. Her first year, Angeline performed as a Snow Angel and by 2011, Angeline had progressed remarkably. That year, artistic director Paula Vreulink featured Angeline as Clara's pesky brother Fritz and lead Snow Angel. "You did a great job as Fritz and have exceeded my expectations, Angeline," Vreulink recalls telling her after Angeline advanced to the highest level dance class in January of this year. "However, at nine years old, you will be too young to dance the role of Clara and besides, you will need to learn to dance on pointe shoes first." One look at Angeline's face and one could tell her disappointment. However, this news made Angeline even more determined and eventually she began attending ballet classes five days a week. During the summer, Angeline received her first pair of pointe shoes and proved that there was no turning back; today, Angeline turns triple pirouettes and her beautiful arabesques are even more elongated. In September, three judges awarded Angeline the lead role of Clara, making Vreulink happily eat her own words. On Saturday, Dec. 22 at 7:30 p.m., Angeline will grace the Downey Civic Theatre stage as the elegant and brave Clara and perform her role with expertise and execution far beyond her young age. The performance will be repeated Dec. 23 at 2:30 p.m. If you would like to see this Southern California Dance Theatre's pint-sized dancer battle the fierce Mouse King and visit the richly sugar-coated candy palace, you can purchase tickets at the box office at (562) 861-8211 or online at

********** Published: December 6, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 34