I loved dance class. Highlights of my elementary school dance career included dressing up in a tutu doing ballet to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake – or tap dancing to Heard it through the Grapevine donning a California raisin costume. My dance classes were a wonderful complement to my piano performance pursuit — music and everything about it became a very important part of my life. I was extremely lucky to have the opportunity.
The world of ballet was always very intriguing to me. So graceful and dignified — it represented the beauty of humanity. Unfortunately, ballet isn’t always the most accessible form of dance for some communities. And then comes a ballet dancer like Robyn Gardenhire, the Artistic Director of the City Ballet of Los Angeles – who brings ballet into young lives who have limited or no access to the art.
I met Robyn while working in Los Angeles, and her vision for City Ballet of Los Angeles is that it is a professional training school that provides full scholarships to students that are economically and socially disadvantaged. The City Ballet of LA is a company whose repertoire is a mixture of classical and contemporary dance — and it’s been open since 2000.
The Urban Outreach Program gives ballet training at no cost — reaching over 500 children annually through the Elementary School Partnership Program which takes ballet into the public elementary school curriculum in LAUSD, and its Professional Training Program offers 30 full scholarships to study at CBLA’s home base.
Robyn herself began her ballet career after a chance to audition in Compton, CA & was able to go on and perform with some of the country’s most renowned dance companies — including the Joffrey II Ballet Company and the Cleveland Ballet.
Robyn says of CBLA: “I want my students to decide for themselves where they want to dance. They might not want to stay here and do my stuff. But I want to give them the opportunity to have that choice.”
Check out the following video about Robyn and CBLA:
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