Mia Schlosser, a 15-year-old first-time competitor and Westlake Village resident, was one of two finalists and $5,000-award winners of a prestigious ballet competition.
“I’m just really surprised and overall really grateful,” Schlosser says of the honor. “It’s been a great experience.”
The annual Music Center Spotlight Competition gives musicians, dancers, singers and actors across Southern California a free opportunity to showcase their talent in front of qualified judges who give each artist feedback. The Music Center, an L.A.-based performing arts center recognized for its artistic excellence and home to various resident companies, runs the event to give high school students a chance to grow in their talent and distinguish themselves as artists. Participants also have the opportunity to win scholarship money.
The news of her victory caught Schlosser by surprise.
“I truly thought I wasn’t going to make it because I was also one of the youngest,” she says. “It’s amazing because I think it really gets my name out to some people in the dance industry, and it means a lot to me and my CDT [California Dance Theater] family.”
Schlosser, who is in ninth grade, dances with the CDT’s pre-professional training program. In addition to ballet, she dances modern, jazz and contemporary.
“We train from 1:30 to usually 8 p.m.,” she explains.
CDT is the official training site of Pacific Festival Ballet, the Civic Arts Plaza’s resident ballet company. Serving the Conejo Valley for 36 years, CDT offers classes on various dance styles for both children and adults.
Schlosser was not the only one from CDT to place in the competition. Abbey Wyrrick (15) and Julia Outmesguine (17), classmates and friends of Schlosser and dancers in CDT’s pre-professional program, were among sixteen semi-finalists.
“I made it a little bit farther this time. … I was thankful enough to make it to semi-finals which is sixteen people, and it’s my second time doing it,” says Wyrrick.
“This was my first year that I made it to the semi-finals, which was really exciting. … I was just really surprised, but I was really grateful,” Outmesguine says.
Wyrrick has attended CDT since she was five years old. She calls dance a “passion that stayed.”
This past year, Wyrrick combined her love for dance with her niche for digital media.
“I helped California Dance Theater start a YouTube channel so that we could get ballet classes out to our students that had to stay home,” she explains.
She also runs her own Youtube channel.
“I’ve uploaded different videos of professional dancers that did a class online, so that’s given people an opportunity to dance with people they probably would have never gotten to,” Wyrrick says.
Wyrrick shares her goals for the future: “I would love to be in a company, but also, if I can take my digital media skills to help create a new form of art for people, I would love to.”
Outmesguine danced as early as two years old and joined CDT when she was five.
“It was when I was like twelve, and I got my first pair of point shoes that I really got hooked on ballet,” she recalls. “Just something about ballet I really love.”
She also enjoys dancing jazz and contemporary.
“It makes you more of a well-rounded dancer, and it’s really fun,” she says, “but definitely, my main focus is ballet, and I think it always has been.”
Last year, Outmesguine, eleventh grade, and Wyrrick, tenth grade, each took home one of five $100 Merit Awards for ballet from Music Center’s Spotlight. This year, the two semi-finalists put another year of the competition under their belts, and with it, a $300 semi-finalist prize.
Kim Maselli, founder and director at California Dance Theater, shares her thoughts on the girls’ success.
“California Dance Theatre has participated in the Music Center Spotlight Competition for years,” she says. “This year, with all of the pandemic challenges, it felt as if I was coaching these three talented ballerinas in a hothouse environment. We overcame obstacles and found a way to achieve despite adversity. I felt I was watching these beautiful flowers find a way to grow through the cracks in the cement. Having all three girls place as semi-finalists and then to have Mia place as the grand finalist is a reward and an honor.”
“You’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t really work hard, but the work comes with all the support of the teachers. [California Dance Theater is] a really supportive, amazing environment,” says Schlosser, who also has been getting additional practice via Zoom classes hosted by professional dancers.
Wyrrick also points to the all-around support she receives at California Dance Theater.
“Going into certain events in my life, my teacher has given me some Scriptures to think about, and not letting one person define who I am as a person, which has been really helpful,” she says. “I’m thankful that our director is a Christian, and she has a different mindset of maybe some other people. … At the end of the day, I serve God, and whatever he has in store for me, I’m willing to take on.”
“My dance studio has been so great with keeping us dancing throughout the whole pandemic. … I’ve still been able to keep my love for dance,” Outmesguine adds.
Schlosser’s goal is to one day dance with a professional company.
“My dream companies are New York City Ballet or American Ballet Theatre,” she says. “This art form is just so beautiful.”
This weekend at Youth America Grand Prix.
Kim Maselli and Mia Schlosser both from WLV.
Pacific Festival Ballet
Julia Outmesguine Right: Abbey Wyrrick
Left to right: Mia Schlosser, 15, from Westlake Village
Julia Outmesguine, 17, from Agoura Hills
Abbey Wyrrick, 15, from Thousand Oaks