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Ballet Society though gone - is alive still in those of us who danced there


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Ballet Society is gone. I mean physically gone. When Jackie Hepner (former NYCB dancer) opened her studio on the 2nd floor of a building on Washington Ave., in San Diego in the late 70's- she was waiting for a large new studio next door expressly built for dance: sprung wooden floor - completelely unobstructed. At that time it was probably the best dance space in the city. During the dozen or so years it was open some famous names passed through as dancers and teachers. There is a picture somewhere of 4-5 of us (me included) sitting on a tractor in our pointe shoes as construction began.

 

I just drove by this afternoon - and it is completely demolished and is a huge new supermarket.

 

But in my mind I saw: Patrick Bissell, ABT Principal dancer giving guest classes, Danish Prima Ballerina Margarthe Schanne teaching Bournonville, Larry Eddington introducing Ted Brunson(future dancer - PA Ballet) to Jackie, Jillana (NYCB Principal dancer), Ed Binney, the internationally recognized authority in several art forms and class "character," Heide Giersche-Schmidt, Judy Sharp, Jamie McArdle, Wayne Davis, Elaine Thomas (Ballet Mistress - Royal Ballet, London) and so many others teaching.

 

I remember the day when Jillana (former principal dancer NYCB) dared to move the clock hands forward when Jackie Hepner got a bit carried away with working on "strenghtening" us. Only Jillana would have dared to do that - resting on her prestigious name. When Jackie mentioned that the time seemed to have gone by very quickly - everyone remained silent - and silently thanked Jillana!

 

I remember the wonderful grand piano and the gifted pianists (many immigrants from the USSR) who played for us. Especially, Kark Fogmeg, with a doctorate in music and dance from Juliard and Balanchine's personal pianist as well as concert pianist and composer. Dancing to his music was a very special experience.

 

I remember the day when the men from the fire station down the street decided to conduct a "fire inspection" hoping to "run into" a class full of women in tights and leotards - but misjudged the time and ended up in the baby ballet class.

 

I remember how people walking by outside would stop and look in those huge windows - or how those windows would fog up as we all created a lot of steam!

 

Well folks, it's gone - it lives only in the mind's eye.

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