When Ka’imi Cambern was a boy growing up on Oahu, he became "obsessed" with a video of the New York City Ballet’s "The Nutcracker."
"I watched it every day," Cambern said. "I tried to imitate them, twirling around and falling down."
Cambern, now 16, has learned how to stay standing, whether he spins, jumps or does both at the same time.
He has taken those talents to impressive heights as a young dancer, winning regional ballet competitions and placing in international contests. In June he reached the semifinals of the USA International Ballet Competition.
Cambern started his formal training with Lee Olsen of the Pacific Ballet Academy at age 6, and moved to Philadelphia two years ago to study ballet full time at a prestigious dance school. His success in competition will take him even farther away, to the Princess Grace Academy of Classical Dance in Monaco, which awarded him a full scholarship.
Cambern, who was on Oahu this month to visit family and friends, hopes to dance professionally in Europe. He is unsure what his dance training in Monaco will offer, but he knows he will face an immediate challenge.
"I’m going to a country where they only speak French," he said. "It will be a lot like a blind date for me."
He should only hope so. From the looks he got from young dancers at Ballet Hawaii, where he had a workout, he shouldn’t have much trouble getting dates.
"He was, like, flying out there," said Khloe Webster, 16, a former schoolmate of Cambern’s who studies at Ballet Hawaii. "I’ve never seen him dance before, but he’s amazing now."
Pam Taylor-Tongg, artistic director of Ballet Hawaii, also watched with approval. "That’s a lot of hard work, a lot of hours," she said.
Nicole Scherzinger, watch out. Hawaii might soon have a new dancing star.