What a Feeling!

You may remember the song What a Feeling from the unforgettable 1980 dance movie Fame. The song includes the line: “Take your passion and make it happen.” That just what Scripps Ranch resident Sarina Jassy has done.

In July, at the age of 12—she’s now 13—she won the Kids Artistic Review National Dance Championship in Las Vegas as the highest scoring soloist. She also has won International Junior Miss Dance USA, the Rainbow Dance Competition, and is the reigning Miss Teen Dance and Dancer of the Year. She earned scholarships at dance conventions and is the star performer in the benefit dance video Lexi’s Song, produced by Rising Talent Magazine and raises money for sick children.

Two years ago Sarina could not have imagined she would be able to dance at all. She started having excruciating pain in both legs. An orthopedic surgeon diagnosed and treated her for tendinitis. She did physical therapy three times a week for three months. “It was the most miserable time of my life,” she says. “I didn’t know what the future would be like.”

Happily, Sarina was able to return to her busy life, which includes five hours a day of dance practice—countless more when a competition is coming up—as well as maintaining straight A’s in school. An 8th grader at Marshall Middle School, she is in the Seminar Program, taking advanced classes that require more homework. She already has amassed high school credits.

Her grueling schedule begins at 6:30 am to get ready for school. She eats breakfast in the car. At 2:20 pm she gets out of school, changes into dance clothes in the car, and starts dance practice at 3 pm.

She gets home at 8 pm, eats supper, finishes up any homework she didn’t get to on dance breaks or in the car, and goes to bed at 10 pm. Weekends are easier, with Saturday practices from noon to 3 pm, and Sunday school, where she is preparing for her Bat Mitzvah in 2014.

“We keep busy,” echoes her mother, Sharon, whose days start earlier than Sarina’s to make sure her daughter gets up on time. Sharon also does her daughter’s hair and makeup for performances, as well as embellishing the costumes she needs. One of the latest has hundreds of rhinestones, each applied by hand.

Sarina’s father, Leo, does most of the driving and fills in where needed. Sarina does the dancing, but the finished product is a team effort, lovingly provided. The family includes Sarina’s brother, Russell, 29, and her dog, Buttercup.

Sarina is motivated, organized, and above all, disciplined to accomplish all she has to do. Her mother feels she became “grounded” as a result of staying home and soaking up the family atmosphere while other kids went to preschool.

She is a product of Scripps Ranch schools, including Dingeman Elementary. Sarina still remembers the “great lessons” learned when the school’s namesake, Col. Bob Dingeman, came in once a month and spoke to the students. Now at Marshall, Sarina has distinguished herself academically, as an artist, and a winning essayist.

An avid believer in community service, her goal is to “teach dance to children who have limited access and resources.” Grateful for what medicine did for her, she aspires to be an orthopedic surgeon.

Summers and some weekends give Sarina time for social activities. A former ice skater, she now does it for fun, especially with friends when a rink is set up on Coronado beach. She doesn’t have much time for television, but she makes sure to watch it when she is on. Like other teens, she likes to “hang out with friends, go to the beach, swim, go to the movies, and shop.”

Sarina makes her TV debut in September on Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition on the Lifetime channel. She is also in the upcoming motion picture, Platinum the Dance Movie. Watch for her!

Elinor Reiss