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Christa Oliver is dancing her way to Britain to study at a prestigious school this fall.



Published: Sun, August 25, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Christa Oliver is dancing her way to Britain to study at a prestigious school this fall.

By ROSA MERCADO

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Nothing can keep Christa Oliver from taking the stage -- as long as you let her dance.

"I do tap, jazz, Latin, modern, ballet and pointe," said the lithe 19-year-old.

Once told her feet were too flat for ballet, the Youngstown dancer is not letting anything stand in her way. "I've always wanted to dance," she says.

Oliver, a dance major at the University of Akron, started training at age 12 -- an age considered late in the professional dance world. She caught on quickly.

"Dance teachers would tell me I couldn't dance," Oliver said. "I even had one teacher say to me, 'I don't think you're ready for the University of Akron -- you're not disciplined enough.'"

Teacher's praise

Karen Clark-Green, director of the Archangel Dance Theatre in Youngstown and Oliver's dance teacher for the past six years, disagrees. "She's a hard worker and has great perseverance," said Clark-Green, who is trained in professional theater and dance. "She does not stop until she masters something."

Oliver said Clark-Green helped steer the family toward dance. "Karen talked to my mom and said, 'Your daughters look like dancers -- they have long legs and long arms."

The young dancer credits her teacher with helping her reach her goals. "I wouldn't be the dancer I am today if I hadn't studied with Karen Clark-Green," she said.

Oliver's sister Jessica, 18, is also a dancer with Archangel and is intent on following in her sister's dance steps. She will be entering the University of Akron's dance program in the fall.

Going overseas

In six years, Oliver has ascended to levels that take many aspiring dancers their whole childhoods to reach. One of them is the opportunity to study at the Laban Centre -- a prestigious dance school in London, England.

The school is named after Rudolf Laban, a Hungarian dancer, choreographer and teacher who died in 1958. Laban is considered the founding figure of Central European modern dance.

Oliver said the miraculous thing is that she got into Laban without an audition. She explained that she was chosen based on her GPA, r & eacute;sum & eacute; and recommendations. She's excited about training in such a top-notch school.

"The school is mainly focused on the Laban technique, which is a modern style of dance," she explained. "I'll take ballet there, but their main focus is modern."

Oliver will study at the school from October to December.

Before applying to Laban, Oliver received the "Freshman of the Year Dance Award" from the University of Akron and was chosen to dance in the school's fall and spring performances.

With feats such as this under her belt, her goal of dancing with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre inches closer with each step she takes.

Betty Oliver, her mother, said she's always told Christa not to let anything hold her back -- not any person, and not even herself. "I want them to fulfill their dreams," Oliver said of her children. "I want them to keep God in their lives always, and to remember their roots and where they came from -- no matter what."

rmercado@vindy.com




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