Calling their new studios in the Anaheim Cultural Arts Center "dancer's heaven," Sarma and Larry Rosenberg, co-artistic directors of the Anaheim Ballet, are fulfilling long-held dreams.
"This is a home that makes all the projects and plans we've had for all these years possible," Sarma Rosenberg said in a recent phone interview.
"Ever since we've been out here, we've looked at the Orange County area and asked, Where is this really possible? Where can we reach the largest numbers and see the most growth?
"It's taken us a while. In Anaheim, we've found a community and a city government that have the same vision we do. We're thrilled to see it all come together."
The two-story building--dedicated in January--was formerly a senior citizens facility. Refurbished, it gives them about 14,000 square feet of space, in which they maintain two large and several smaller dance studios and a library. The building also houses office and storage space for the Arts Council.
"We can have our outreach classes going at the same time as we have the career-track classes going, and the Pilates [method] training," Larry Rosenberg said. "Rehearsals won't interfere with our classes."
The husband and wife team created Coast Ballet Theatre in 1981 in San Juan Capistrano. That troupe became Anaheim Ballet in the summer of 1997.
"We knew we couldn't grow in South County beyond a certain point," Larry said. "Then came the invitation from the Anaheim City Council to be the [city's] resident ballet."
"We felt restricted in South County," Sarma added. "But in this location, there are so many options. The school can blossom. The performances can blossom."
They already have several hundred students, including those in their outreach program, called "Step Up." There are eight teachers, including the two Rosenbergs.
"We've always done outreach," Sarma said. "We've always had our scholarship program. But now we can bring in more kids. Since we're in a downtown area, it's also possible to attract visitors.
"We take a global view about ballet. We have to do everything to keep this art form alive."
The move does not mean, however, that they are abandoning performing in favor of teaching.
"We've been sort of lying low, waiting for these facilities to be finished," Sarma said. "Now, we can go into full force and do seasons again.
"Actually, we have been keeping an incredibly busy performing schedule. We've been doing performances for the Pacific Symphony and the Philharmonic Society at the Performing Arts Center, and tons of outreach performances, and a season at Pearson Park. But we haven't had a regular season."
Their company consists of a core of 12 dancers, whose average age is early 20s. The two plan to start a regular subscription series in the fall.
Meanwhile, they still commute from San Juan Capistrano.
"We'd love to move closer to work," Larry said. "That's in the future as well.
* Anaheim Ballet will hold an open house, with free dance classes, from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 12 at the Anaheim Cultural Arts Center, 280 E. Lincoln Ave. (714) 520-0904.
Chris Pasles can be reached at (714) 966-5602 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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