When Adrienne Canterna was 2 1/2 years old, a neighbor gave her a pair of used ballet slippers. Now, the 14-year-old Linthicum dancer and her younger sister, Ashley, are supporting each other in a quest to become performers with American Ballet Theater in New York.
It's not as far-fetched as it may seem. Their resumes include performances with the Maryland Ballet and Dance Impressions, in Michael J. Fox's film "Life With Mikey," and solos at the international Jazz World Congress at the Kennedy Center in Washington.
Last weekend, they performed (with invited guest artists) in a showcase called "ENCORE: An Evening at the Ballet" at the Pascal Center for the Performing Arts at Anne Arundel Community College. The showcase raises money to defray the cost of their lessons.
Their parents, John and Sally Canterna, are as proud of the poise with which their daughters handle their talent as of the awards that decorate their home.
A close bond
While many sisters enter their teens seeking identities separate from one another, the Canterna sisters have developed a close bond.
"My sister has always been my idol," says 12-year-old Ashley. "I love the way she dances, and I always wanted to dance like her."
Adrienne says Ashley is her best friend, someone who understands what she's trying to accomplish.
"Sometimes it's hard to make a connection with [other people]. They don't understand our schedule," said Adrienne.
Both girls have made sacrifices to dance. Spending more than 20 hours a week in training and rehearsal, the girls find little time for the usual teen activities.
"Sure, I miss going to the mall with my friends," says Ashley. "And we don't go ice-skating or roller-skating because there's a chance we might hurt our ankles, and then we couldn't dance."
She adds, "But I'd rather dance."
Even an afternoon at the pool can result in unsightly tan lines that affect their appearance in costume.
Adrienne doesn't care what she's given up.
"By the time I was 5 years old, I knew I wanted to be a ballerina," she says. "I don't mind the sacrifices that have to be made."
The rest of the family, including brothers Andy, 21, and Tony, 17, also have made sacrifices for the sake of the dancers.
Sally Canterna decided to teach the girls at home for the sake of a flexible schedule that would allow for dance lessons from a private coach.
Both girls take lessons with the Edna Lee Dance Studio in Glen Burnie, where they student-teach the next generation of dancers. They also continue lessons at the Susan Ina Dance Studio in Linthicum, where they began.
The family added a rehearsal studio to the home to cut down on travel time to lessons.
Then there are the shoes.
Pointe shoes are $60 a pair, and active dancers such as the Canterna girls can go through a pair a week -- each.
"During December, when they were rehearsing for 'The Nutcracker,' we spent $400 on pointe shoes," says their mother.
"Don't ask me how we did it. I don't know. We're just a normal family with a regular income."
Despite their emotional and financial investment in their daughters' dancing, the Canternas are realistic about their chances of making it to ABT.
"There is little room at the top," says Sally Canterna. "It's like a young boy who wants to be a professional baseball player when he grows up. The odds are against it.
"But there are some who can do it," she continues. "Some who are blessed with the right talent and body type, have the right teachers and the right parent support."
"I really believe I will become a professional ballerina in New York," says Adrienne. "I don't see myself doing anything but that."
Pub Date: 6/15/97