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Rocklin teen dances her way to London’s prestigious dance school

When the world spins, Liselle Yap stands strong on her toes in an artistic and focused realm of self-expression. “It’s part of our job as dancers to make it seem like what we do is effortless when in reality it takes years and years of dedication and practice. But that is part of the beauty and the art of it,” said the 18-year-old Rocklin High senior. Yap relishes the challenge of dancing and the process of creating something. She regards the experience of dancing as “freeing” – seeing it as a way to expel negative emotional energy. The dancer was notified in early February that she would be training to become a professional dancer at the London Contemporary School of Dance. She will head for London in September to begin a three-year study program. The acceptance followed on the heels of an audition held recently in San Francisco. She is one of 40 dancers accepted out of a pool of 1,000 applicants. Yap started dancing at age 9, but did not start seriously training until she was 12. The countless hours of practices and performances have meant sacrifices for Yap and her family. “She has done so without complaining. She has voiced to us a few times that she wishes she could attend more of her siblings’ functions or family getaways. And we do miss her, too,” said Valerie Febre-Yap, who admires her daughter’s commitment to dance. She is pleased her daughter will have an opportunity to discover the world and herself while studying in London. Close friend, 18-year-old Ashley Brown, also admires Yap’s determination and dedication to dance. Brown has also noticed that her friend has developed an elevated tolerance for stress, pain, and emotions throughout her dance career. “Liselle’s creativity has also grown massively,” said Brown. Her decision to enroll in a musical theatre class was inspired by watching a Broadway production. Yap started out as a member of a performing jazz team for three years, then switched studios and trained intensively in modern style and ballet. She has performed in productions of “The Wizard of Oz,” “Alice in Wonderland” and a ballet version of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Yap has trained with O’Sullivan’s Dance Academy and Northern California Dance Conservatory – studying a variety of styles, including ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz, tap, hip-hop, Tahitian, and African. Different cultures and traveling have intrigued Yap, so the opportunity to study in London is a way to combine her passions. Her ballet instructor, who lived and danced in Europe, suggested that Yap audition for the London Contemporary. The school was also recommended by a friend who is currently studying at the London school. Yap said she is excited to embrace dance – both physically and artistically. Although she will not have any academic classes, she plans to pursue a degree in sociology after finishing her studies in London. “It’s all dance, all the time,” said Yap. The increased dedication is not the only transition for Yap. From the metric system to the urban ambience to cultural linguistic expressions, life itself will full of new experiences. Yap hopes her studies in London will open the door to a lifetime of dancing on an elite stage with a professional company. When she is physically unable to perform, Yap plans on forming her own company. The daughter of Eric S. Yap and Valerie Febre-Yap credits her teachers Jen Bradford, Theodore Constant, and Kelly Archer for supplying the inspiration, skills, and guidance to her development as a dancer. She is thankful for the opportunities and support California Dance Conservatory, her family, friends, and mentors have provided her. The art of dancing has impacted her growth as a human being, Yap said. She believes the art form has taught her discipline and an awareness of her surroundings. “There are always distractions and we all have bad days,” she said, “Reminding myself what the ultimate goal is and how much I love to dance has helped me push through those hard times and stay focused.”