By Colleen Sparks
Budding ballerinas and professional dancers will have a chance to spread their wings when Ballet Theatre of Phoenix takes the leap into its new, more expansive home on North 7th Street in August.
The dance school and home of Convergence Ballet will host its grand opening Aug. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. while classes will officially start in the new location at 6201 N. 7th St. on Aug. 24. The modern, new dance education center will feature four studios, a faculty lounge, dressing rooms, showers and curbside drop-off to offer convenience and a safe entry.
The 7,500-square-foot center will fulfill a long-awaited dream for Ballet Theatre of Phoenix and its director and founder Jennifer Cafarella. She also is artistic director of Convergence Ballet. The dance school and resident dance company have been operating at 2326 E. Indian School Road in Phoenix since 2016. Cafarella started Ballet Theatre of Phoenix in 2016 and founded Convergence Ballet in 2010.
“Seeing the growth of central Phoenix, it just felt like a natural move when this building came up available,” Cafarella said. “The traffic flow is very nice. It’s a safe area…I see businesses really being transformed in that area. I am excited about meeting more people, expanding the community.”
The current dance school and professional company space on Indian School Road is about 4,500 square feet with two studios. With the larger building, Ballet Theatre of Phoenix will be able to add children’s yoga classes and a contemporary dance program, as well as provide additional evening adult ballet classes, Cafarella said. She also will be able to rent out space to other businesses including dance teachers working with private students and a theater company.
Convergence Ballet also plans to elevate its PLIES Program (Providing Leaps in Elementary Schools), which offers free dance lessons to students at Loma Linda Elementary School. Cafarella is hoping other Title I schools can partner with the dance company to allow students to participate in the program. Besides the free classes, Convergence Ballet also provides tights, leotards and snacks to students.
Madison School District students receive a discount on classes. The new headquarters will be close to Madison Rose Lane Elementary School, which is at 1155 E. Rose Lane.
Dance students who study at Ballet Theatre of Phoenix perform with Convergence Ballet in “Nutcracker Swing” every winter. Any dancer in the community can audition for Convergence Ballet’s “Alice in Wonderland” ballet each year.
Students can enroll in fall classes that start Aug. 2, with the school taking many steps to keep students and staff members healthy amid the Coronavirus pandemic. Children and teens are never turned away but undergo assessments to determine their levels before beginning classes. Adult classes are being taught via Zoom.