S. Philly hit-run victim, a dancer from Bulgaria, has died

Polina Kadiyska, 22, from Bulgaria, was studying at the prestigious Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia when she was struck and critically injured by a hit-and-run driver. (from her Facebook profile)
Polina Kadiyska, 22, from Bulgaria, was studying at the prestigious Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia when she was struck and critically injured by a hit-and-run driver. (from her Facebook profile)
Posted: March 20, 2012

A huge portrait of Polina Kadiyska keeps watch over Washington Avenue near Broad from the window of the Rock School for Dance Education, her lithe dancer's body frozen in midair in the rhythms of a routine. The picture overlooks the street where the young ballerina moved for the last time.

A Rock School student from Bulgaria - who also apparently worked on the side as hired eye-candy for parties - Kadiyska, 22, died today from injuries she received after being run down Sunday by a drunk, teenage driver.

Police say Deandre Barnes, who had just turned 19 the day before, ran a red light and hit Kadiyska about 4 a.m. Sunday, as she crossed the street near her school after she had left a nearby Chinese restaurant.

Barnes allegedly continued driving his 1999 Audi A4 but stopped and fled on foot after he hit three parked cars. Witnesses alerted police, who apprehended Barnes and his passenger when they returned to the Audi to retrieve their belongings, said Officer Christine O'Brien, a police spokeswoman.

Kadiyska died today at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital after being taken off life support.

A ballerina from the Bulgarian city of Sofia, Kadiyska was a third-year student at the Rock School. She also appears to have worked with Jewelz Entertainment, a "nightlife entertainment" company that offers aerial choreography, body painted models and dancers, nightclub dancers and "sexy body" sushi models for parties.

Jewelz owner Julie Abramson posted a picture of herself and Kadiyska on her Facebook page today, commenting: "You were beautiful beyond words and have touched many. Rest in peace Polina."

At school, Kadiyska "was a mentor to the young students, a joyous person to be around," said Stephanie Wolf-Spassoff, the school's director. Kadiyska danced as the Dew Drop Fairy in the school's 2011 production of The Nutcracker.

"She strived for perfection in everything that she did, and she shared that passion with others," Wolf-Spassoff said.

She called the past few months "the happiest for Polina." Kadiyska was preparing to audition for major ballet companies and was rehearsing with a "renewed sense of energy."

"The best dancers do what they do not only because they love to dance, but also because they love sharing the beauty of the art form with others," she said. "I think that that's how everyone will remember Polina."

Barnes, of McKean Street near 7th, was charged with driving under the influence, aggravated assault and related offenses. He remains jailed on $1 million bail awaiting an April 3 arraignment.

His passenger wasn't charged.

Barnes also was scheduled to appear in court April 2 for an assault last August in which he allegedly threatened and attacked a female acquaintance, according to court records.

His attorney Emmett Madden denied Barnes' guilt in both cases. Madden contended that Kadiyska crossed the street mid-block and ran into Barnes' path. He denied that Barnes disregarded the red light. As for him fleeing, Barnes "might have gotten scared initially [and left], but he came back to make sure the girl was OK," Madden said.

Police reports indicate Kadiyska had the right-of-way when she crossed at the crosswalk, and that Barnes ran the light.

Contact Dana DiFilippo at difilid@phillynews.com or 215-854-5934.

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