Oklahoma

The studio recently completed their production of Oklahoma.

In 1955, a passionate ballet student from New York moved to Tucson. 

“I was devastated because there was no decent ballet here,” Dance Theater West Owner and Director Susan Silverman said. 

It was around then that she met Frances Cohen, who Silverman said saved her dance life.

Cohen had established Kadimah Dance Company, one of the first modern dance studios in the state.

“I had a chance to dance with Frances’s company, which kept me alive all through high school and college,” Silverman said. “While it wasn’t my ballet, it was good, classical dance.”

Fast forward to 1987. Silverman and Cohen were reunited and decided to become business partners. That was the beginning of Dance Theater West.

“I was teaching dance here in Phoenix,” Silverman said, “when I ran into Frances, who’d just moved back from Washington D.C. She had been invited to create the resident modern dance company for the new Herberger Theater, which was just being built.”

At 48, Silverman didn’t want a studio because she thought she was too old. Cohen, who needed a place for her company to rehearse, talked her into it.

“I loved teaching,” Silverman said. “Frances taught the little ones, and I put together the ballet program called Story Book Ballet Company. It fit our business because my ballet dancers could also be great modern dancers to work in Frances’s company. We had a great partnership for 32 years.”

Silverman was heartbroken when Cohen passed in 2019. She was dealt another blow when the pandemic hit in 2020.

“To keep our dancers engaged, we started teaching virtual classes,” Silverman said. “I came up with Backyard Ballet. Our dancers would come to pick up costumes, take them home and do their choreography to classical music while their family videoed them.”

Now, the studio is open, and dancers are back in session, albeit with masks. This fall, they’ve done two performances of Peter Pan; one for a mother-daughter event, and the other was a collaboration with Free Arts for Abused Children.

Upcoming performances include the Toy Shoppe Tea Party on December 18 and Alice in Wonderland, which will premier next May.

dancetheaterwest.com

 

SIDEBAR:

Other dance studios 

BRICKS STUDIO

bricksstudio.com

In addition to offering a wide variety of dance classes for children of all ages, the company also teaches tumbling and cheer. They’re expanding their repertoire with pop-up styles, like gymnastics and jazz, in the future.

“Mandy Durante opened Bricks about 14 years ago,” Director of Operations Jamie Zwick said. “Before coming to Phoenix, she had a studio in Utah. Living here, she saw an opportunity and jumped right in as she worked to make the community a better place. To Mandy, dance lessons teach life lessons.” 

TUTU SCHOOL ARCADIA

tutuschool.com

Tutu School is a boutique ballet school for children 18 months to eight years old. “We’re unique because we focus on young kids. In addition to our small classes, we also host camps and birthday parties,” Owner Caroline Taylor said. 

Tutu Toddlers is for kids up to three years old; Exploring Ballet is for 3 to 5 years old, and Primary Ballet is for 5 to 8 years old.

“We want every child to know what it feels like to dance,” Taylor said. “With pinks, purples, yellows and chandeliers, our studio immerses our dancers into the world of a storybook ballet.”

 

OTHER DANCE STUDIOS

BRICKS STUDIO

bricksstudio.com

In addition to offering a wide variety of dance classes for children of all ages, the company also teaches tumbling and cheer. They’re expanding their repertoire with pop-up styles,

like gymnastics and jazz, in the future.

“Mandy Durante opened Bricks about 14 years ago,” Director of Operations Jamie Zwick said. “Before coming to Phoenix, she had a studio in Utah. Living here, she saw an opportunity and jumped right in as she worked to make the community a better place. To Mandy, dance lessons teach life lessons.”  

TUTU SCHOOL ARCADIA

tutuschool.com

Tutu School is a boutique ballet school for children 18 months to eight years old. “We’re unique because we focus on young kids. In addition to our small classes, we also host camps and birthday parties,” Owner Caroline Taylor said. 

Tutu Toddlers is for kids up to three years old; Exploring Ballet is for 3-5 years old, and Primary Ballet is for 5-8 years old. “We want every child to know what it feels like to dance,” Taylor said. “With pinks, purples, yellows and chandeliers, our studio immerses our dancers into the world of a storybook ballet.”