School: Ballerina dies after hit-and-run accident

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Polina Kadiyska Polina Kadiyska Ballerina IDd as victim of hit-and-run

Administrators at the Rock School for Dance Education tell Action News a ballerina struck by a hit-and-run driver over the weekend was taken off life support Tuesday and has died.

22-year-old Polina Kadiyska's parents arrived in Philadelphia from Bulgaria while she was clinging to life at the hospital. They made it just in time to say goodbye.

The family at her dance school are remembering the young dancer who was struck down by a hit and run driver over the weekend.

Polina was known as a very promising dancer - her picture displayed largely on the facade of The Rock School in South Philadelphia. She came from Bulgaria three years ago to study at the school. She was tall for a ballet dancer but elegant and expressive, and she had a promising future.

In videos posted online Polina Kadiyska is featured as she lightly moves across the studio floor.

The directors of the Rock School offered her a scholarship to study dance. With her hard work and natural talent, she had great expectations for upcoming auditions.

"She flew! said Stephanie Wolf Spassoff, Director at The Rock School. "She was just beautiful in the air and she appeared effortless when she danced. And she had turn, she had beautiful technique. But most of all it was the realness of her performing. It was the way her face just radiated beauty and love and joy."

"Really the past few months, she was so joyous in class," Spassof continued. "She had some beautiful choreography done for her."

Justin Allen recently choreographed an original piece just for Polina.

"It was about her and it made her very, very happy. She just always wanted to become this great dancer in this amazing company and she was getting there."

Then, early Sunday morning, she was crossing at a marked crosswalk in the 1100 block of South Broad Street not far from the dance school. She was struck by a green Audi.

Investigators say 19-year-old Deandre Barnes ran a red light and struck the young woman, throwing her 50 feet. Barnes allegedly fled, hitting three parked cars before he and his passenger ran off.

Police say the pair returned to the car to pick up personal items and that's when Barnes was arrested.

Since then, her fellow dancers have been gathering flowers and sharing memories of Polina, who they say was not only a beautiful dancer but a wonderful woman.

"I felt really blessed to have had her in my life," said dance partner Isaiah Sumler.

"She was a dancer," said Bojan Spassoff, President and Director at The Rock School. "She was an athlete. She was artistic and beautiful, but I think of the quality of her as a person, the way she enjoyed everything, the way she tried to help people. I think that made her exemplary."

Barnes is in custody and charged with aggravated assault, but those charges will now be upgraded to homicide by vehicle and homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence.

Polina's parents are now hoping to fly her home to Bulgaria. She is expected to be buried there.

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