Sayward Grindley points out the handprints on the floor-to-ceiling windows and makes her case. First, folks are clearly paying attention to Sarasota Ballet’s Studio 20, the new teaching and performance facility downtown on Lemon Street across from Mattison’s City Grille, and that presence is increasing awareness of ballet, in general, and the Sarasota troupe, in particular. And, second, the visibility is drawing students to the studio’s menu of classes.
Probably abetted by “Black Swan,” the noir film drama starring Natalie Portman, ballet classes are attracting people who aspire not to careers but to fitness and to having a ballerina body. Just last month, The New York Times reported that, “Women have long coveted sinewy arms, high and tight derrieres, lean legs and a regal posture. Now, in search of this shape, many of them are ditching yoga and Pilates and lining up at the ballet barre.”
Grindley, who is both education director of the Sarasota Ballet and artistic director of the Sarasota Ballet School, thinks more in terms of “learning brain-to-body commands.” That instruction is valuable to virtually anyone and available in various flavors at Studio 20, which strives to offer something for every level and every age. (See box at right for summer schedule.) It is not necessary to be a dancer to take a dance class here; teachers adapt for whomever is in the class. Most of them are company members. For example, principal dancer Kate Honea teaches a dance fitness/boot-camp class, and principal dancer Octavio Martin teaches Latin jazz.
Studio 20 is, in effect, a gift to the ballet from John Simon, of Pineapple Square Development. (It was previously donated to Sarasota Season of Sculpture as a gallery.) It began offering classes in October. The space is outfitted with mirrors, barres and a professional, Marley-covered sprung floor. Grindley says she is waiting for an artist or a gallery to use its walls for display and “looking for an angel to help with bathrooms that are functioning but not finished and to address lighting needs.” To help out, call her at 359-0099, Ext. 120 or email her at [email protected].
Studio 20 offers evening performances the first Friday of every month that are free and open to the public. The ballet leases it to other dance companies, such as Moving Ethos, and other organizations use it for fundraisers and performances.
Grindley’s team includes Fallon Niesen (intern and dancer), Christie Wile (trainee program and administration) and Skyler Taylor (education associate and teacher).
“The energy of being downtown makes Studio 20 different from any other studio,” Taylor says.
That attribute, the diverse menu of classes and the quality of instruction have all contributed to building a loyal student body.
“Most students come back,” Grindley says, “and at least 75% stay.”
Molly Schechter is an ACE-certified personal trainer with a specialty in older adult fitness plus YogaFit Instructor Training, SCF Yoga Fundamentals and Power Pilates™ Mat Certifications. She teaches classes at the Bayfront Park Recreation Center and the Longboat Key Club. Email her at [email protected].
More ballet for adults
West Coast Civic Ballet
1370-D Blvd. of the Arts, Sarasota
For all ages, including seniors (taught by Alice Stahlschmidt)
Opening June 20 at Paradise Plaza, 3800 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite 16, Sarasota
Studio 20 summer classes run through Aug. 20. All classes are $10 unless otherwise noted. RSVP to [email protected].
10 to 11 a.m.: Adult beginner ballet
11 a.m. to noon: Latin cardio: flamenco
6:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Latin jazz
10 to 11 a.m.: Dance fitness/Boot camp
2:45 to 3:45 p.m.: Jazz
5:30 to 6:30 p.m.: Pilates ($15)
6:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Yoga
10 to 11 a.m.: Adult beginner/intermediate ballet
4:30 to 5:30 p.m.: Adult beginner jazz
6:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Dance fitness/Boot camp
9 to 10 a.m.: Yoga
5 to 8 p.m.: Trionoide Academy of Irish Dance
10 to 11 a.m.: Stretch and Tone
5 to 9 p.m.: Rehearsal and performances
9 to 11 a.m.: Ballet mixed levels ($15)
11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.: Stretch and Stability
1:30 to 3 p.m.: Modern with Moving Ethos
3 to 7 p.m.: Moving Ethos rehearsals