Magazine article Dance Teacher

L.A. Angel

Magazine article Dance Teacher

L.A. Angel

Article excerpt

Robyn Gardenhire's City Ballet of Los Angeles School offers serious ballet training that crosses racial and economic barriers. BY JENNIFER STAHL

A taste of dance isn't what Robyn Gardenhire wants to give underprivileged children. She wants to train them to become dancers. "There's a lot of outreach out there," she says, "but it's usually just a little dab of this, a little dab of that-nothing that could possibly prepare a child for a professional career."

Gardenhire herself grew up in a household unable to afford ballet classes. But with the help of scholarships, she received a full classical education, which led to a successful career dancing with companies that included American Ballet Theatre, Karole Armitage, and White Oak Project. So after she retired, Gardenhire returned her native Southern California to try to make sure Los Angelenos of all backgrounds had access to quality ballet training.

Her City Ballet of Los Angeles School opened in 2001 in the heart of a poor, predominantly Hispanic neighborhood in downtown L.A. "I wanted to be right near the kids so that transportation wouldn't be an issue," she says. Students pay a flat monthly fee of $20 or $25 to take ballet, pointe, variations, yoga, modern, dance history, and/or fencing. (Most of the funds to run the school come through grants and individual donations.) The school has a pre-professional program and an open program on Saturdays. In total, CBLA currently has around 150 students.

The school's 4,000-square-foot studio is located in the Red Shield Community Center, which donates the space. …

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