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KCBS Radio/Bob Butler

Historic Ballet School In Oakland Loses Home, Faces Uncertain Future

Bob Butler
December 27, 2018 - 10:28 am

OAKLAND — A popular school that's taught ballet for 50 years has lost its space in Oakland and is struggling to find a new location. 

The Oakland Ballet School was founded in 1968 by Ronn Guidi, who was also the founding artistic director of the Oakland Ballet Company. Thousands of dancers have trained at its MacArthur Boulevard location in the Dimond neighborhood. But with its lease ending, the curtain may fall on the artistic institution. 

"Our lease is coming up here at the end of the month of December, and at this point it doesn't look like we'll be able to stay here," said Joral Schmalle, a former student, who took over as artistic director when Guidi retired. His wife Denise is the school's associate artistic director. 

Corrine Jung, 33, is a longtime student at the school. She says that she began attending classes before she was born when her mother was pregnant and studied there. 

"It's big, knowing you can't come here, you don't know what to do," she said. "This is what you've given everything up for. I really feel for the young ones," she said, adding that "it's everybody's home."

Schmalle tried to buy the building, but that didn't work out. Now, he's trying to find a space with 3,000 to 4,000 square feet where young dance students would be able to soar. Students at the school range in age from four to 18, although some adults like Jung still come back to dance. 

Written by Diana Shook.