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Getting to Know...

Talia Gottlieb

Talia Gottlieb is a Potomac resident and a recent graduate of Churchill High School. She will be performing in "Coppelia," the classic ballet about a toymaker and the power of imagination, with the Chamber Ballet Ensemble and students of the Twinbrook School of Ballet at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center, June 15 at 7 p.m. and June 16 at 1 p.m. Adult tickets $20; students/senior citizens, $15; under six free. Group rates available. Call 301-770-3038. The Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center is located on the Rockville Campus of Montgomery College at

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Hood River, Ore., but at 6 weeks old, my family moved to Malaysia. I then lived in four different countries during the next 18 months of my life. We finally settled in Takoma Park, Md., where my brother was born, but four years later we moved to Nairobi, Kenya. We spent five years in Kenya and my time there really shaped the way I look at the world. The morals and values I have and my passion for travel and exploring different cultures really developed while living in Kenya. We then moved to Potomac the summer before 7th grade. The transition back to living in America was incredibly difficult, but definitely got easier and much better when I entered high school.

Tell us about your family.

I have one younger brother, Joe, who is 15. My family is very supportive and our travels overseas have forced us to become close and dependent on each other. When travel is a constant in your life, family becomes the only constant support system. My parents are very worldly and cultured people who have always encouraged me to explore different avenues in life and I think their support has made me an independent and curious person.

Favorite school subject:

I have always loved English and Spanish.

How did you get involved in dancing?

Like most 3-year-old girls, I took ballet classes but eventually decided I wanted to dance like the ‘big girls.’ My parents enrolled me at Maryland Youth Ballet until we left for Kenya. In Kenya we found a program called the Royal Academy of Dance, an international dance program based out of London. I was able to continue with the RAD curriculum in the U.S. when I found a studio, The Twinbrook School of Ballet in Rockville, which is one of many branches on the East Coast. I have been with my teacher, Phyllis Blake, for all six years we’ve been in Potomac.

What does this upcoming performance man to you? How is it special?

My upcoming performance, "Coppelia," is the first full-length ballet we have put on since I’ve been with the studio. There are three senior girls graduating this year, so each of us will play the lead role in one of the three acts. I am very close with both girls and I’ve spent so many years dancing at TSB, so my final performance will be bittersweet. The three of us have been working hard for several months and we all have seen what a huge undertaking it is to put on a full ballet, rather than excerpts and solos.

How has being involved in Churchill theater helped you as a performer?

I was involved in Churchill theatre all four years I was in attendance, and my experiences have helped me in so many ways. I definitely acquired a greater sense of comfort and confidence onstage, and became more willing to step outside the box and try new things with each character I played. I was fortunate to have played so many different kinds of roles and establish friendships with so many talented people. My experience with Churchill theatre really solidified my desire to pursue the performing arts in college and hopefully as a career.

What is "Coppelia" about?

"Coppelia" is a very old, classic ballet. It is a very light and funny story about a young girl, Swanhilda, and her lover Franz. Franz falls in love with a mysterious woman in a window. The woman turns out to be a life size doll created by the mysterious town toymaker, Dr. Coppelius. Swanhilda becomes jealous and angry with Franz because she thinks the doll is a real girl. She and her friends decide to explore the toyshop, where she discovers the girl is, in fact, a doll. Franz then sneaks into the shop seeking the beautiful ‘woman’ where he encounters Dr. Coppelius, who makes Franz fall asleep after sharing several drinks. Swanhilda fools Dr. Coppelius by pretending to be his precious doll, which he believes he is magically bringing to life. Finally Swanhilda reveals herself and she and Franz flee the toyshop after he discovers the woman is a doll. The lovers get married in the end and the ballet concludes with dances in celebration of the wedding.

What do you enjoy most about dancing?

I think of dance as such a beautifully expressive art that anyone and everyone can take part in. I love the elegance and precision of ballet and how eloquently stories can be told through just music and movement. There are also so many forms of dance that I hope to explore in college and later in life.

How has studying ballet helped you in life?

Ballet has always been a constant presence in my life and keeps me focused, concentrated and relaxed. Not only has ballet kept me from becoming too stressed, but it has also been a great form of physical exercise.

Are you planning on dancing in college? Professionally?

I am planning on dancing in college and will hopefully explore many different forms of dance in the next few years. Dancing professionally is very difficult and requires huge dedication and time commitment. I’m really just interested in continuing to dance as long as I can, but not professionally.

Awards and achievements:

I’ve been fortunate over the years to gain recognition by my peers and community. I was a member of the Churchill Signature Program for the Creative & Performing Arts, and was also an officer for the Churchill Thespian Troupe. I was a CAPPIES ((National Capitol Area Critics and Awards Program) nominee last year for best female dancer for my role as Dream Ballet Maria/Anybodys in West Side Story. I was also selected as a Maryland Distinguished Scholar of the Arts for Theatre in 2006. At the annual RAD Dance Day I was also awarded a summer program scholarship at the American Dance Institute.

What are your hobbies?

I love theatre and acting, but I also enjoy writing poetry. I’ve played intramural basketball and am actively involved in the organization Invisible Children, helping children in war torn Uganda.

Favorite place to hang out in the community?

I enjoy spending time at various parks in the area like Cabin John or Great Falls. It’s nice to escape the suburban buzz and enjoy the outdoors.

What are some ideas you have on ways to improve your community?

I’ve found the community to have a great number of interesting activities and a variety of places to spend time. After six years I’ve become very comfortable and familiar with the community but I also am excited to be moving to the West Coast for college.

What is the last book you read?

"Teacher Man" by Frank McCourt

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I see myself having graduated from Whitman College, and either living in Los Angeles and auditioning, or pursuing higher degrees in education, theatre, or some other subject.

Personal goals?

I hope to find a job that will allow me to travel extensively. Ideally I would like to find some success in movies or television, but would be just as happy teaching English or Spanish at international schools overseas.