BOISE — A Boise teenager is beating the odds after finding a passion in the Treasure Valley. The 15-year-old is perfecting turn-outs and pliés, hoping for a future in the ballet.
When you walk into one of the brightly lit studios at Ballet Idaho, you can see the concentration on the students’ faces.
“Big toe on the floor,” commands the instructor. Students follow suit with precision and poise.
Close to 250 students take classes at Ballet Idaho. Many of them have dreams of becoming a prima ballerina, and the one male dancer in this class has aspirations of ballet greatness, too.
“I get a lot of attention,” admits dancer Antonio Carnell.
He doesn’t mind the spotlight.
“This is my sixth year dancing here at Ballet Idaho,” Carnell told us.
The long hours and repetition have been good for the teenager. It’s a completely different world compared to the one he was born into.
“I grew up in an adoption home or foster home and there was no opportunity in St. Louis, Missouri and I didn’t grow up with a dance background,” said Carnell.
Early on in life, Antonio didn’t have much of a chance at all.
“Antonio was uh, had a very difficult start in life. He was born prenatally exposed to drugs, went through withdrawal. Premature,” said Michael Carnell.
At the age of three, Antonio met the people who would help him change course: his adoptive parents, Michael and Diane.
“He’s just a real resilient, positive human being,” added Antonio’s adoptive father.
The Carnells brought Antonio to Boise and gave him a safe place to grow.
“Even when he was little he was such a performer,” said Diane Carnell.
When he showed an interest in dance at age 10, Antonio’s family encouraged him. A dance scholarship at Ballet Idaho sealed the deal.
“I’m here more than I’m at my house,” said Antonio Carnell of the Ballet Idaho studio.
Antonio’s teachers say he has a natural ability.
“He has a wonderful stage personality,” said Academy Director Emily Wallace. “And you really see that in him, that drive to perfection.”
Antonio Carnell is now perfecting his technique six days a week. He hopes to turn his passion into a career.
“That’s what he’d like to do. He’d like to be a dancer. that’s his goal,” said Michael Carnell.
The 15-year-old dancer told us he’s ready for the challenge. A tough past has prepared him for the rigorous road ahead. It’s the advice he says he’s give any young person reaching for a dream.
“Just work really hard and you can accomplish it,” said Antonio Carnell.
The teenager is definitely working hard to reach his goal of becoming an accomplished dancer. He’s taking part in a summer intensive ballet experience in Oregon for the next few weeks.
In addition to classes at Ballet Idaho, he also performs in several productions throughout the year. Instructors in Boise say he has the potential to keep growing and dance in a prestigious ballet company in the future.