Gustafson Dance, 2285 Las Positas Road, Santa Barbara, California 93105
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Exclusive Interview with ‘The Two Claras’ and Our Teen Dance Star Finalists

We are so looking forward to the holiday season here at Gustafson Dance and the amazing stories that come from our dancers as they prepare to perform and celebrate with all of us.  We took a break from rehearsals the other day to ask our two Clara’s what they thought about their upcoming performance and the season.


Karlise and Hannah will perform as Clara for the Nutcracker production.

What inspires you?

Hannah: What inspires me everyday are honestly my family, my friends, and my teachers. They are my biggest support system and always have believed in me even when i didn’t! They push me to be the best I can be and I wouldn’t want anything else!

Karlise: The people that inspire me the most would have to be both of my parents. They’ve always taught me that talent can only get you so far, and that what really sets you apart are your work ethic, perseverance, and the way that you treat others. My peers around the studio also help keep me going when I’m facing hardships in my life outside of dance. They support both my achievements and my non-success, and I know I can always count on them.  

Have you always wanted to play Clara?

Hannah: I have wanted to play Clara for as long as i can remember. Specifically when I saw my sister perform it when I was about 4 years old. I even used to imitate what she did on the dvd and tie a little pink ribbon in my hair! Right now my goals are to dance in college and hopefully make it my career because there really is nothing else I would rather spend my time doing other than ballet.

Karlise and HannahKarlise: I didn’t grow up performing the Nutcracker, so being Clara wasn’t something I thought of as a possibility until I came to Gustafson! Once I realized Clara was a goal of mine, I kept it in the back of mind as motivation during tough classes and rehearsals, which helped keep me focused on achieving my goal.

What are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Hannah: This holiday performance season I’m of course looking forward to dance as Clara on stage in front of my friends and family! I’m also looking forward to seeing my best friend Karlise perform it as well because i know she loves it just as much as I do and she is going to be beautiful!

Karlise: I’m looking forward to the challenging aspect of the role, and the amazing opportunity to perform it at a beautiful theatre like the Granada! I love the feeling of being on stage and am so excited to connect with the audience and hopefully inspire other dancers as well!



SSBYD Dancers Top 10 Finalists for Teen Dance Star 2017

Teen Dance Star 2017 Top 10 Finalists include Gustafson Dance’s 14 year old 9th grader in Level 5, Catherine Pizzinat and 16 year old 11th grader in Level 6, Karlise Loza.

Both are also a part of State Street Ballet Young Dancers. Catherine is in the Apprentice 2 Level of SSBYD and Karlise is in the Company Level.  Karlise will be featured as Clara in The Nutcracker this December at the Granada Theatre, and Catherine recently danced the title role in Tina the Ballerina and will be featured as Clarice in Rudolph at the Lobero. They are both dancing in many other parts in both of those shows as well as preparing pieces for the Regional Dance America National Festival next spring.  

The Teen Dance Star Finale show will be held at the Lobero Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 28th.  Tickets go on sale on December 3rd at 1pm.  We would love for Gustafson Dance Families to go to support Catherine and Karlise and the event! Through partnership with Arts Mentorship Program, proceeds from the performance will come back to the studios involved in order to provide scholarships for dance training.

Catherine and Karlise may have tickets that you can buy from them, or plan on buying your tickets from the Lobero on December 3rd (Many of us will be at the Lobero for Rudolph that day already! Just add a TDS ticket when you are there!