Review by: Adult Beginner
Class is called: Beginner Ballet
Where: Debbie Reynolds Studio, North Hollywood
How It Is:
I’m in love with this place. Completely.
To paraphrase the website, it was established in 1979 by Debbie Reynolds with the idea of providing, in addition to excellent dance space, some of the small luxuries that most studios lack. Simple things like easy free parking, showers, a place to sit that’s not the floor, a water fountain, a kitchen counter, a place to change clothes. It’s amazing how many dance studios in LA still, in 2014, do not offer these rather modest comforts.
That said, this place was luxurious thirty five years ago and it is now kind of a luxuriously run-down time-capsule. The sinks in the ladies room are FABulous 1970’s avocado green. The hallways are carpeted to comfort and quiet your tired feet, but the carpet has seen better days. The parking lot is huge and free, but there are signs all over the place saying Park At Your Own Risk, because, oh yeah, the studio is, like, deep in the creepy heart of North Hollywood, like, Noho Arts District this ain’t. But who cares because the studio room that holds Beginner Ballet is huge, wooden floored, with two ancient pianos, nice sturdy portable barres, and an entire back corner partitioned off, hiding —I’m not even kidding— a golden chariot, a bunch of scenery flats, and a whole bunch of mannequins. I’m seriously in love with this place.
The teacher is charming and British and is the only teacher I’ve met while doing these reviews who is aware of how hard it is to find an actual beginner class in LA, and who makes an effort to keep her class accessible to the beginners, no matter how many professionals show up. Her approach is to emphasize strength rather than going for crazy complexity, so most of the barre exercises are given on flat and then again on demi pointe, and I’ll just say here, as a person accustomed to death-gripping a wall barre, ronde de jambes en le air on demi on a portable barre: I was sore for the next two days. Also I’ll just say here the girl on the other side of my barre was very kind about not making a big thing about it while she pulled the barre back into place after every single exercise. (Gosh I don’t know why it’s traveling like that ha ha face-palm)
If you are a true beginner or TB (see key here), the teacher will modify some barre exercises and center stuff for you, which is awesome, if you are an IB or AB you will fit right in, if you are a TI or TA, you’ll get a nice work out.
Class size: ten or so
Age range: 20something and up, mostly twenties, I think? But a good amount over thirty?
Any dudes? yes
What to wear: black
In Conclusion: I think I mentioned that I’m in love with this place?
If you want to have the best day ever, drive south on Lankershim after class and get a shake at the In&Out and then drive over to Circus Liquor at Vineland and Burbank Boulevard and re-enact that scene from Clueless. Best day ever.
See below: Is that a toy piano or IS ANN MILLER A GIANT???
See this Ibis-headed Sphinx? A pair of them guard the entrance. Also, note Debbie’s parking space. Aw yeah.