The phrase “late bloomer” is a concept with universal appeal. Why? Because it implies that people can ramp up and launch a career or other creative endeavor at an age when most people would be starting to wrap things up and look forward to retirement. The late actor Alan Rickman was 41 before securing his first film role, while Col. Sanders didn’t hit it big with KFC until the ripe old age of 65. While these are two great examples of people who found great success later in life, there are others who just the opposite and find success earlier than most people expect. Sofia Jansen is one such person. At the age of 14, Jansen is already a senior company dancer in the Redondo Ballet Company (RBC) which was founded in 2014 by Francesca Stern, an internationally recognized teacher and member of the prestigious Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing in London. Jansen, a Gardena resident, fell in love with dance at a very young age and began taking dance lessons at age 4. “I take dance classes six days a week and dance four hours a day on average,” Jansen said. “I also participate in numerous rehearsals and community performances, so I frequently practice outside of the studio class time as well. Right now, I am dancing at Dance 1 Redondo, which is an amazing dance studio in Redondo Beach.” When Jansen reached age 9 she had already been dancing at Dance 1 Redondo for several years and as a result of her impressive dance skills, was invited to join the Redondo Ballet Company where she began with the Redondo Ballet Apprentice Company before moving up to the regular Ballet Company, which is where she has been for the past five years. Next year Jansen plans to join the Pre-Professional Company at Redondo Ballet. “As a Senior Company dancer in Redondo Ballet, I participate in the two full length professional ballet productions that Redondo Ballet Company puts on annually,” Jansen said. “In the fall, RBC performs an original ballet called “Through the Pages” which is a magical journey through various Fairy Tales. In the winter, RBC performs “Snow Queen.” Due to the pandemic, the company had to get a bit creative, when the live performances were not possible, so I was also part of the Redondo Ballet Movie that was produced in place of a live performance.” When not participating in dance practice or dance performances, Jansen attends California Connections Academy, an online, tuition-free public school. Although she attended Gardena’s Environmental Charter Middle School as well as a few other South Bay-area schools, she considers California Connections her academic home mainly due to the supportive teachers and flexibility that allows her to get her education while also pursuing her dance career. “California Connections Academy is a great online school for students who are Independent, have self-management and structure and are pursuing sports or arts interests at the pre-professional level,” she said. “Thanks to the California Connections Academy, I have also had more opportunities and freedom to travel for dance events such as a Winter Ballet Intensive in Escuela De Ballet in Mexico, where I was invited on a partial scholarship after participating in an international ballet competition called Ballet Beyond Borders.” In addition to attending school and dancing for the Redondo Ballet Company, Jansen also makes time to volunteer in the service of others. “As a member of RBC, I’ve had the privilege to participate in the RBC philanthropic program called Ballet in the Box,” Jansen said. “As a dancer, I perform, and help teach children who live in areas with limited access to dance education, with part of the dance choreography and help other kids experience the joy of ballet.” Jansen, who is also a member of the Redondo Ballet Company Outreach Team, runs the RBC’s Parents Night Out event when dancers babysit kids for a few hours entertaining them with movies and dance games so that parents can enjoy a date night. She also helps with other events such as beach cleanup and the Blue Butterfly Restoration Project which involves making greeting cards for seniors at the Sunrise Senior Living Center. Jansen said that she would one day like to pursue dancing as her profession because of her great love for the art. She also said that one day in the future when she has finished with her dancing career, she would very much like to follow in the footsteps of Francesca Stern and teach dance to others. “I love to teach dance, so when my dancing career is over, I would love to be a dance teacher and dance choreographer,” she said. “After that, I’m not sure. I do love to travel and have always loved animals, so maybe I’ll explore a career in zoology, but we’ll see!
Gardena dancer’s career soars to rare heights
Sofi a Jansen performs with RBC at age 14