Archive for Tuesday, January 7, 1992

ARTS CENTER STEPS IN TO FILL BALLET VOID

January 7, 1992

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Although the Lawrence School of Ballet has folded, its students may go on dancing.

The school, 205 W. Eighth, closed Dec. 21, said Christine Ebert, the former business manager. Lorena Keefe, owner of Degage Dancewear in Overland Park, took over the school from Deb Bettinger in May 1991. Ebert said the school was closed because of low enrollment.

But the Lawrence Arts Center has stepped in to offer dance classes on Monday and Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings at the School of Ballet studio, with a faculty made up of ballet school teachers, said Ann Evans, director of the center.

"We've always wanted to offer more dance classes, but because the Lawrence School of Ballet was here we didn't,'' Evans said. "We'd offer lots of creative movement classes, but with the School of Ballet closing there was a need for more dance.''

THE CLASSES, which include ballet, tap and clogging, will begin Jan. 18 and run until May 20. Enrollment is now under way at the Arts Center, Ninth and Vermont. Evans said the center will run the program off the fees charged for the classes. Other creative movement classes still will be taught at the Arts Center.

The School of Ballet space itself has been rented to the Heartland Community Church, a non-denomenational congregation, said Paul Gray, a pastor of the 50-member group. The Arts Center plans to rent the space from Heartland.

Gray said the group had discussed renting the Granada Theatre with its owner, Mike Elwell, who mentioned the availability of the School of Ballet space, which Elwell also owns.

"We realized that this space was better suited to our needs,'' Gray said.

HE SAID HE and the congregation plan to open the space to other uses, such as performances, on a rental basis.

The School of Ballet had its origins in the mid-1950s. Tomi Wortham, a New York City Ballet dancer, came to Lawrence to attend Kansas University and opened the Lawrence Dance Studio at 100 W. 19th, said Katie Armitage, a local historian. During the years, it changed owners and addresses, and some of its students, including Karole Armitage, Jane Bodle and Jodie Pattee, went on to professional careers in ballet and modern dance.

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