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Reopening act

School of the Ballet begins year 13 in new locale with afternoon of demonstrations.

February 26, 2010|By Melonie Magruder

The Burbank School of the Ballet had a grand-opening celebration in its new digs Sunday, and the adorable factor was off the charts.

Pink and black balloons, echoing the hues of the tiny dancers’ leotards and tights, floated above parents nervously chasing daughters with bobby pins and lithe young women stretching their legs beyond places God meant legs to go.

In its 13th year of operation, the school has just moved from cramped quarters up the street to a new facility on Burbank Boulevard with two studios and space to store costumes and beribboned pointe shoes.


Accommodating some 200 students in classes teaching classical ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary and hip-hop dancing, the school offered a slice of the discipline that founder and Artistic Director Lisa Sutton tries to instill in her charges with short, sweetly choreographed pieces performed by her students.

Parents like Karen Lissonshowed support for the new venture.

“We just love Miss Lisa,” she said. “She has worked so hard for this moment, and you’ll see it in the dancing today.”

The studios were created in four months by Sutton’s “rock ’n’ roller” husband, Jamie, a studio engineer who, Sutton confided, “has absolutely no background in construction or design.”

Brightly colored walls lined with barres and posters of Mikhail Baryshnikov are reflected in mirrors.

Sutton studied under scholarship with the school feeding the American Ballet Theatre and has won international teaching awards. Eighteen years of teaching dance in the Burbank area have seen her working with some of the more notable dancers to spring from Southern California, such as Natalie Krakirian, who just won the Grand Prix Award at the Youth American Grand Prix international competition.

But she also helped shape Olympic skater Lu Chen, the first skater from China to ever win an Olympic medal in figure skating, whose artistry relied just as much on ballet as triple axels.

“Ballet is the foundation of all dance movement,” Sutton said. “Like the foundation of anything, if it is not laid properly, everything collapses.”

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