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Life & Work with Aspen Alexandra Kallenberg and Emma Poirier

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aspen Alexandra Kallenberg and Emma Poirier.

“When I dance I feel like I can fly, I feel like I’m free.” “I want to help raise money for kids for physical therapy and help kids live their dream too.” – Aspen Alexandra Kallenberg four years old) – Ballerina

A few months ago, our four years old daughter Aspen Alexandra came to me, her mom, and said she wanted to help kids, so I asked her “how will you do that?” and she said “I will dance.”

It is the challenges we face that make us stronger and teach us that anything in the world can be possible.

Inspired, Aspen Alexandra Kallenberg and her wonderful friend Emma Poirier created Dance4PTN, a fundraiser from their hearts as ballerinas with a dream to help kids live their dreams too, by raising money for Pediatric Therapy Network ( PTN) through dance. PTN is a local non-profit organization that directly provides physical and occupational therapy services to kids of all abilities!

“My goal for this project is to help heal children who need therapy so that they will have even more opportunities to live their dream, just as I am doing with ballet. Whether you are a ballerina, lover of theater or anything in between, the art of dancing can inspire you in so many different ways. To this day, every ballet class I take is just as magical as my first.” – Emma Poirier (14 years old) – Ballerina

Aspen and Emma want to share their personal stories and dreams in hopes that this will help other kids always reach for their dreams too. Your encouragement, donations, sharing of our fundraiser and even anyone who would like to Dance4PTN is incredible! If you are in a position to donate, we are so incredibly grateful for your support!

Please visit our page at:

We want to share with you what makes Pediatric Therapy Network so special and why we started a Ballet Fundraiser.

Pediatric Therapy Network has always been very near and dear to our hearts and will always hold a special place within our family. In fact, PTN has helped us with our own physical therapy journey as well as so many kids and families by providing therapies that increase each child’s abilities so that he or she can live a more fulfilling and independent life. PTN serves children of all abilities by directly providing physical, occupational and speech therapy services to children as well as support to families, especially during the COVID pandemic.

PTN has helped us through some of the greatest challenges and not only to overcome these challenges but to be inspired by them and become even stronger. Aspen told her physical therapist at 14 months old, ‘I do not want to crawl, I want to dance.” And so she did and still does, all day long. It is that fundamental pure joy of movement, of dance and of music and every child deserves to have every opportunity to find that joy too. This is exactly why we are so inspired by the people at PTN.

Aspen is four years old and has always loved to dance, loved ballet with her whole heart even before she could walk, she would ask to watch the performance of the Nutcracker and Swan Lake over and over and hum to the music, she would sit with me and mover her upper body and arms. The amazing people at PTN helped us now live this dream. Aspen started physical therapy at only a few months old due to weakness to one side of her body. After working with the Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy team at PTN and with her dream and drive to dance not only is our little dancer walking and dancing but she feels like she is flying when she dances. Now having overcome these great challenges with the help of the wonderful people at PTN, these challenges and experiences have not only made us stronger but even more inspired! Focusing on the unique gifts and abilities of every child is what makes PTN truly special and they encourage every child.

“My goal is to become a professional ballerina and I am working hard each day to be able to live my dream.” Emma

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Pediatric Therapy Network relies on the support of the community to sustain their year-round therapeutic programs and meet the growing need for services.

PTN has served over 10,000 children by providing therapies for physical, occupational, speech and language, social skills, and feeding issues caused by autism, Down’s syndrome, intellectual, developmental, and/or physical disabilities. They intern, train, and hire many young therapists from our local colleges and universities and give them a full clinical experience to enhance their futures. PTN is visited by therapists from all over the world who come to learn the PTN sensory integration model. During this pandemic, PTN has made available free developmental videos for homeschooling parents and they have shared publicly specific information about food banks as well as other services. They are expanding their Early Head Start program (0-3 years) and hope to begin their Head Start (3-6 years) program soon. PTN is now reaching additional children remotely with their pivot to Telehealth services. In these distressing times of lost income, the need is great for PTN to keep improving outcomes for our children.

We hope you will partner with us to help us raise funds for Pediatric Therapy Network, a truly life-changing organization. Aspen and Emma have made two very special short films dancing their favorite ballet scenes to share their dreams with you and help kids live their dreams too. Art and dance have been such an incredible part of Aspen’s life and so has every person at PTN. You can view the films from the comfort of your home so please check back with our fundraising page for more information in the weeks to come!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Emma – When we first started planning this fundraiser, the plan was for me to dance Odette’s variation from Swan Lake and to dance variations from the Nutcracker. Unfortunately, a few days before filming day, I fractured my left foot. I got placed in a boot and my ankle was non-weight bearing. Because of this, I could no longer dance the variations. However, we persevered through this obstacle and still found a way for me to dance in the fundraiser. I danced the variations with my upper body only. This was such a beautiful and unique experience. I learned a lot about my art form and how you can still dance even without using your legs.

Aspen and mom – I think the challenges we face the more we learn and grow, then something truly magical can happen. Aspen is four years old but she really wanted to help the kids at PTN through dance and show that together we can truly help each other live our dreams. Aspen having been through physical therapy, it was no easy road however I think this experience and the amazing people we met along the way have truly inspired us in so many ways. So, this project truly comes from our hearts. Putting together a ballet fundraiser was not easy, especially during the COVID pandemic but then I feel what better time to come together and have a fundraiser so that PTN can continue their amazing work than in this time of greatest need. We are so incredibly grateful to have met an amazing team at Manhattan Beach Studios to help us turn this fundraiser from a dream into reality! So, the things we may initially view as hardships can truly become so inspiring, we are truly blessed! Also, as Emma has mentioned, a few days before filming she broke her foot and could not dance using her legs. However, being faced with this tremendous obstacle she still danced with her upper body and it was truly wonderful! So I think the obstacles we face inspire us to be more creative in every way!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Aspen – “ I want to be a ballerina forever, I want to be Odile and Odette as well as Carmen and the Sugarplum fairy.” “I love every opportunity to dance anywhere and to share my love of ballet with everyone.” “When I dance I just love it, I feel like I am free, I feel like my toes are leaping and I am flying, I can fly.” “I want to help other kids live their dreams too.” What we allow to thrive with our imagination, with our love for our craft, for dance, wholeheartedly.

I asked Aspen why she liked to dance, and she said because “I just love it.” Memories are wonderful reminders of where we have been and where we are going.

I asked Aspen what her favorite memory is and she told me about all the wonderful friends she has met on her journey, especially at Pediatric Therapy Network and through ballet. The dance of the sugar plum fairy, La Bayadere and Swan Lake was Aspen’s first ever musical love. Listening to performances at the Mariinsky, Royal Ballet and the Bolshoi ballet and would say “more sugarplum,” she was about eight months old. She would learn the variations and ballet movements on her own in our kitchen and as she became stronger and stronger she danced every single one. She asked us for ballet classes at about 14 months old and we are fully supportive of her dreams. Aspen currently trains in the Pre-Professional/ Professional ballet program with her amazing teacher Ms. Inga Demetryan in the Vaganova method. We still incorporate a lot of the physical therapy exercises and strength training into our dance routine. She also loves all styles of dance especially Ballroom and Contemporary Ballets. One of her favorite choreographers is Maurice Bejart. She also loves science, reading, dancing with her friends from around the world and helping others. She said that she wants to dance forever and hopes that other kids can find what they love too just like she did.

Our goal is to raise $250,000.00 for Pediatric Therapy Network so they can continue to do the amazing work they do! It is truly a blessing and the greatest gift to help others.

Emma – I have been dancing my whole life. When I was three years old, I participated in different styles of dance, but when I was 11 I started to focus more on ballet. Now, ballet and contemporary are the main styles I dance. My goal is to join a ballet company when I am older, so training in these two styles are very important. I train at Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy in the Vaganova method and I am in the Professional Training Division. I train 25 plus hours a week. Even though this may seem like a lot of hard work, I enjoy every minute of it. I also take part in international ballet competitions such as Youth America Grand Prix. I am a NGgeneration Nikolay/Grishko ambassador. Grishko, known as Nikolay in the United States, is one of the top worldwide pointe shoe and dancewear brands. I believe what makes me unique as a dancer is my passion for ballet. Years of hard work has been put in to make me the ballerina that I am today! I am so proud to be able to show off my hard work through my dancing. There is so much more to learn and I am so eager to get there. I am so grateful for every opportunity to perform. I believe I would not have made it this far without my passion and love for ballet. I am truly blessed.

How do you think about luck?
When Emma and Aspen met, they both shared a love for ballet, which is why they became friends so quickly! Luckily, they both lived in Southern California. They decided to meet for lunch one afternoon and they have been dancing together ever since and started working on this wonderful fundraiser for Pediatric Therapy Network. We have met so many kind people along the way and are eternally grateful for their friendship and help. Call it luck, faith or friendship I think there is true magic in the world it all depends on how we look at it. True luck is in the people we meet and friends we make.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Kseniya Kallenberg, Mark Nicholas, JP Cordero Photography, EvaNys Photography, Hailey Poirier

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