The impending opening of the new Midtown Arts Center also opens up a whole new world for Eugene Ballet Academy students.
For many years, Academy students have trained in cramped and dim spaces on Willamette Street. When the new arts center at 16th Avenue and Pearl Street opens early in 2021, students will find expansive and bright studios, high-tech sound and video equipment, and a host of other amenities: lots of lockers and cubbies, a library/study area, computer stations, dressing rooms, a kitchenette, and more.
Students and their parents are excited!
Sofia Kovash, 14, has been training in ballet and several other dance styles for the past six years. She explains, “The new facility will allow us more room to spread out, move around in class, and practice things like leaps and turns,” which often aren’t possible due to the current facility’s ceiling height and the small studio spaces.
Her mom agrees. “The students have been excitedly awaiting the new facility since construction began,” says Jane Kovash. “It will be a dream come true for so many dancers.”
Adding to the current studios’ limitations are the restrictions on class sizes and social distancing necessary as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, adds Academy Director Sara Lombardi. While in-person classes have resumed, attendance is limited to less than 10 students. As overall Academy enrollment has declined due to the pandemic, the Academy is keeping students and families connected with virtual events and some outdoor social gatherings.
“It’s been important for the families to connect during a time of isolation,” Lombardi says. “I’m very encouraged by their commitment through it all.” She sees an opportunity in the new Midtown Arts Center to eventually bring enrollment back to pre-COVID levels, and in the short term, class sizes can double in the larger spaces and still allow social distancing. The new studios will eventually allow the Academy to have up to 500 students, 200 more than pre-pandemic levels.
Academy parent Karrie Walters-Warren also sees the Midtown Arts Center as a benefit for all of Eugene, not just for her own 12-year-old son Gabriel, who hopes to become a professional dancer someday. “For arts in Eugene in general, the new space will allow for a great number of new collaborations and connections across different organizations and art forms,” she says.
Like all Academy students, Gabriel is looking forward to the larger studios, but says he’s really excited about one amenity the old facility doesn’t have: “Air conditioning!”
For information on Academy classes, including registration, go to: https://eugeneballet.org/academy/.
Parents, alumni and other fans of Eugene Ballet Academy interested in supporting the Midtown Arts Center Capital Campaign can learn more at https://midtownartscenter.org/ Donors providing a gift of $100 or more will be recognized with their name as a permanent fixture on the Donor Wall just inside the main entrance of the Midtown Arts Center.