Vista L.A.: Leaders inspiring Latino kids w/ dance, music

Originally aired Sun., June 24, at 11:30 a.m.

Opera Queen Suzanna Guzman - Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

Suzanna Guzman is a world-famous mezzo-soprano. She has been singing opera for more than 25 years, performing in the biggest opera houses in the world, and has even performed with opera king Placido Domingo.

As a Latina, she has not only helped change the face of opera, she has also helped create opportunities for local kids. As the Director of Community Engagement at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Guzman scouts inner-city schools and communities for undiscovered young talent. She encourages students to audition for the public arts high school and once accepted, she fosters both their academic and artistic success [Watch video].

For more information about the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) or about open auditions, visit:

LACHSA is a free public arts high school in East Los Angeles. This unique high school is located on the campus of California State University, Los Angeles and offers both academic instruction and a variety of performing arts studies from dance and theatre to visual arts and music. LACHSA serves hundreds of culturally and socioeconomically diverse teens from more than 80 school districts in the county. Prospective students must audition for acceptance.

Classical music "maestra" Sonia Marie De Leon de Vega

Vista L.A. spoke with noted symphony and opera conductor Sonia Marie De Leon de Vega. The "maestra" is breaking ground for Latinas in the classical music world and bringing the music she loves to Latino families and communities throughout Los Angeles. She founded the Eagle Rock-based Santa Cecilia Orchestra and the Discovering Music program, which exposes children to musical instruments and classical music.

For more information about the Discovering Music program or the Santa Cecilia Orchestra, visit:

Inspiring Latino kids through dance

Hollywood choreographer Debbie Allen's dance school for kids

The Dance Academy is a studio in Los Angeles committed to the arts to inspire and transform the lives of thousands of young people in L.A. through dance and theatre.

For more information about Debbie Allen's Dance Academy, visit:

The Gabriella Axelrad Foundation - A mother's love inspires a dance program

The Gabriella Axelrad Foundation was created more than 10 years ago to start the Everybody Dance program in the Pico Union district of Los Angeles. This dance program was created by Liza Bercovici, in memory of her daughter Gabriella Axelrad, a 13-year-old who loved to dance and aspired to be a teacher.

Thousands of local children receive instruction in a variety of dance styles including tap, ballet, jazz and modern dance at little or no cost. The organization's goal is to help each child it serves acquire self discipline and self confidence, and in so doing, increase each child's potential for a fulfilling, productive future.

There is a waiting list to join Everybody Dance. For more information, to sign up or support the foundation, you can write or call:

The Gabriella Axelrad Education Foundation
631 South Commonwealth Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90005
Phone: (213) 365-2491

The Wooden Floor - A dance program inspiring success in the classroom

The Wooden Floor is a top-notch dance program for kids in Santa Ana. Under the guidance of executive and artistic director Melanie Rios Glaser, The Wooden Floor program offers ballet, jazz, tap and also provides academic and family services, such as tutoring and counseling.

Their motto is, "From here, you can step anywhere." Once a student becomes a part of this low-cost dance program, the organization makes a 10-year commitment to them. The Wooden Floor teachers show students how to dance while also helping the kids improve their self-confidence and school grades.

To learn more about The Wooden Floor, visit:

YOLA - Youth Orchestra L.A.

Youth Orchestra L.A., also known as YOLA, is a music program for children in underserved neighborhoods of Los Angeles, primarily in Central and South L.A. Under the direction of the L.A. Philharmonic Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, the mission of Youth Orchestra L.A. is to put instruments in the hands of children and give them the best quality instruction by creating new ensemble programs, all free of cost. YOLA hopes the orchestra experience will instill life-long values, like discipline and teamwork in the students.

For more information on how to sign up your child, visit:

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