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Seneca Valley arts program growing by leaps and bounds

| Saturday, April 6, 2013, 11:50 p.m.
Kwang-suk Choi, main instructor at the Seneca Valley district’s performing arts program and a former professional dancer, leads a class in dance. Choi was a longtime dancer with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater.

The Seneca Valley's School District's performing arts program is getting increasingly ambitious.

In addition to theater, music and band programs, the school offers a dance program. The district will offer a workshop for the program Saturday.

“We do all kinds of dance — ballet, modern, jazz and tap, even hip-hop,” said Kwang-suk Choi, the program's main instructor, a former professional dancer and retired member of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater.

Choi, 41, was a founding member of the Seoul Ballet Theatre in Korea. He also danced with the National Ballet of Korea, the Atlanta Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre and the Cleveland and San Jose ballet companies.

He retired in 2010 as a principal dancer with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, where his main roles were in Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Giselle, Coppelia and Carmina Burana.

The dance program he runs at Seneca Valley is the first such program at the school, said Linda Andreassi, a district spokeswoman. Some Seneca Valley students also are enrolled in dance programs at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland, Beaver County, she said.

“Many students have been involved in dance projects outside of school and several have gone on to become ballerinas,” Andreassi said. “We hope that we are helping to meeting their needs with this program. Kwang-suk Choi is a phenomenal instructor, and the girls really respect him.”

Andreassi said it is unusual for any high school to have arts instructors with Choi's level of professional experience.

This year, Choi has room for about 30 students in his program.

The popularity of musical drama television shows such as “Smash” and “Glee” has put school music and dance programs on the radar of more students, he said.

Yet the Seneca Valley program so far has not attracted boys.

“I wish some boys would take it. They are a little bit shy about doing it at that age — 12 and 13,” Choi said.

The program's open workshop will be Saturday at the Seneca Valley Performing Arts Studio at the Seneca Valley Middle School from 9 a.m. to noon.

The workshop includes two groups in ballet and two groups in modern dance, both based on age. One group is for dancers ages 10 to 13. The other is for dancers ages 14 to 18.

A recital is planned June 6 at the district's Intermediate High School and will include selections from Paquita, a classical French ballet.

To sign up for the workshop, email Katie Osan at Osanka@svsd.net.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at rwills@tribweb.com.

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