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Lengthy legacy

Garri Dance Studio of Burbank celebrates its 50th anniversary with recital at the Alex.

By Joyce Rudolph, June 01, 2008

The music of Broadway will be the backdrop for the Garri Dance Studio’s 50th anniversary recital at the Alex Theatre next weekend.

A Broadway-style show has been a tradition for Garri dance recitals, artistic director/owner Megan Baade said.

“Garri usually had one recital every couple of years, and it was held in a school auditorium in Burbank,” Baade said.

“This is our first time at the Alex.”

The studio has outgrown the school, she said, so they are moving the show to the Glendale theater. Last year, the recital was held at John Muir Middle School, which holds 700 people, but the public wasn’t invited.

The Alex Theatre holds close to 1,500 and Baade said they will be able to fill the audience for two shows and include the public for the first time.

Baade purchased Garri Dance Studio in 2003 from Marybeth Costanzo, who relocated to Arroyo Grande, Baade said. Costanzo’s mother PegE Bell and Jean Hartman founded the studio in 1958.

Costanzo was a partner in the business and continued to run it when her mother became ill in 1999 and after she died in 2000.

Hartman preceded Bell in death, Costanzo said.

The 2 p.m. show on June 8 is titled “Broadway Babies” and features dancers from ages 2 to 6, Baade said.

“They are doing all dance numbers from Broadway musicals in tap, ballet and musical theater-style dances,” she said.

“There will be ballets to ‘West Side Story’s’ ‘I feel pretty’ and from ‘The Sound of Music,’ My Favorite Things.’”

Maya Calvo, 7, of La Crescenta, will be dancing a ballet to “Ease on Down the Road” from the Broadway hit musical “The Wiz.”

“The music is fast,” Maya said.

“It was pretty hard to learn the dance. But when you get the hang of it, you start to memorize it and it’s funner. You don’t have to keep going, ah what’s the next step?”

Appearing in Garri’s anniversary recital is a unique opportunity, said Maya, a second-grader at Valley View Elementary School.

“I feel pretty special because I don’t think other people have been dancing in a 50-year-old studio,” she said.

The 7 p.m. show also on June 8 is titled “On Broadway” with dancers from ages 6 to adult, Baade said.

“They are doing ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, musical theater, break dancing and modern dance or interpretational dance, which is a little more free-form and jazz and ballet based,” she said.

The event will be a reunion for Costanzo, who will attend and speak briefly to the audience after the 7 p.m. show, Baade said.

And a special section of seats has been set aside for former dancers of the studio.

“We’re in our third generation of students,” Baade said. “Lots of times, we have moms enrolling their 2- or 3-year-olds and when we asked them how they’ve heard about the dance studio, they say that they used to dance at the studio when they were little.”

Costanzo grew up at the studio, she said, taking as many classes as she could, and making many lifelong friends.

“Hopefully some of them will be able to attend the show,” Costanzo said.

“As I started teaching myself, and then owned the studio, I had the privilege of teaching so many wonderful and talented children and adults too. I hope they all remember their ‘time steps.’”

Having Costanzo and former students attend the show will be inspiring to the dancers, Baade said.

“The current students will feel like part of the tradition by being in [the] 50th dance recital, and having audience members who used to dance at the studio years ago just like they are doing now,” she said.

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