Bay Ridge, meet internationally renowned ballet. It’s not often that a celebrated ballet company up and launches a high school dance program, but it seems that the Joffrey Ballet and Fort Hamilton High School will provide an exception to that rule. The company is slated to start teaching classes to 25 students at the Bay Ridge high school in the fall.
According to the Daily News, the idea was conceived at a barber shop, while the husband of one of the school’s finance teachers was touching up the Joffrey director’s, Gail D’Addario’s, highlights.
“Tommy told me (Fort Hamilton school officials) were thinking of making the school into a mini Juilliard and that’s how it all began,” said D’Addario, who lives in Bay Ridge and has been LaMarca’s client for 20 years. “If I didn’t have that conversation with him that day, this would never have happened.”
LaMarca’s wife Millie – a finance teacher at the school – had told him Fort Hamilton was desperate for a dance program.
“It’ll be Brooklyn’s own LaGuardia,” said Tom LaMarca. “This will give Brooklyn kids something they could use to fulfill their dreams – and it all came from a Brooklyn Heights barber shop.” [NYDaily News]
Meanwhile, the school will be undergoing $225,000 worth of renovations to build a proper ballet studio.
The Joffrey Ballet, a revolutionary influence on the American dance establishment, was founded by teacher Robert Joffrey and dancer Gerald Arpino in 1956, and started out as six people traveling the United States in a station wagon attached to a U-Haul. Later, the Joffrey would perform at the White House (at Jackie Kennedy’s invitation), in Russia (in the midst of the Cold War, no less), create the first “rock n’ roll” ballet (Trinity, 1970), and work with luminary choreographers such as Alvin Ailey and Twyla Tharp. The Joffrey Ballet has also been the subject of two films—Robert Altman’s The Company, and a full-length documentary entitled Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance.