About 25 years ago, the turn onto Oak Avenue would have been unfamiliar to us all.
Miss Corinne first came to Santa Clarita at the request of a friend who had asked her to teach in a satellite school, Ballet Petite. At the time, Miss Corinne was running a studio in LA, the English Ballet School.
“When I arrived in Santa Clarita, it became clear to me that the area was very young, very new,” said Miss Corinne. “There was no really good quality ballet instruction going on in the valley. When Ballet Petite failed, I asked myself, “What do I do? Do I go back to Los Angeles and focus in my home territory, or do I take the risk and try to expand into Santa Clarita?”
Miss Corinne appears to have made the right decision, and her business grew quickly once she opened her doors to the community. Santa Clarita Ballet became one of the earliest art groups to establish itself at city level.
“I met Carol Guidry shortly after. She had just left Germany after a ten-year dance career and was looking to teach and choreograph, so together we started the company. The rest is history.”
Since then, Santa Clarita Ballet has provided training opportunities for dancers as well as put on semi-professional performances, ranging from “Cinderella,” to “Coppelia,” to original works. Along with classics such as the annual Nutcracker, SCB plays an integral role in the community. As a non-profit program, SCB receives grant money and fundraising money in order to provide amazing sets, costumes, and designs. A couple years ago the studio performed Sleeping Beauty with only eighteen company dancers and a handful of hired professionals.
“The fact that a regional based company can even attempt a full scale ballet like “Sleeping Beauty” and actually pull it off is pretty impressive,” said Miss Corinne.
Miss Corinne credits this success largely to the training the dancers receive. The Royal Academy of Dance syllabus holds a special place in her heart for a variety of reasons.
“I was trained in that methodology since I was a child. My mother was actually the original organizer for the RAD and when we emigrated here she brought RAD with her in 1951,” said Miss Corinne. Although ballet has evolved differently all over the world, sometimes with more Russian influences, Miss Corinne believes the RAD program offers one of the best learning experience for young dancers. One of the many merits of the RAD system includes the complex process teachers must go through in order to receive their teaching credentials.
“I’ve been very fortunate in attracting teachers all RAD trained so that a student can go from one teacher to another with ease,” she said. “Our training is totally complete because there is a fully graded syllabus. By the time you have completed Advanced Two, you have a complete comprehensive understanding of allegro, adage, all of it.”
To all those looking to sign up their child for dance lessons, Santa Clarita Ballet offers a wonderful opportunity to those seeking classical ballet training.
“In my opinion, all dancers should have a classical ballet training, because that is your frame no matter if you go into jazz or modern. You need that basic training,” said Miss Corinne. While Santa Clarita Ballet alumni are now in dance companies all over the country, this is not Miss Corinne’s ultimate goal. “I consider myself a dance educator. I provide the training and what the student wants to do with that training is dependent upon them. Many students are not going to be professional dancers. Even so, they get an amazing experience that will stay with them for the rest of their life.”
Miss Corinne encourages a strong worth ethic and consciousness in her students.
“It requires huge commitment, and it’s a frustrating road sometimes from where you start as a young dancer all the way up to when you are older. As a teacher, you can stimulate and inspire that drive and ability," she said.
“Make sure you’re feeding your art form every day. Feed your inner dance source every day. Appreciate it, love it, and express it to the best of your ability.”
There was a time when Oak Avenue was empty. Today, many of us go there everyday. We dedicate our days to the studios. We grow up there. Oak Avenue is never empty, thanks to community and a passion for art.