Ballet studio celebrates anniversary

Ballet Arte, a dance studio in Solana Beach offering ballet training to preschoolers through seniors, has blossomed in the last five years under the direction of husband-and-wife team Sara Viale and Erlends Zieminch.

“I want to see (Ballet Arte) as a professional school,” Zieminch said. “One day it might happen that we have a company from the school … that’s where we want to push, to a professional school that prepares professional dancers. That’s where we want to go, and that’s why we maintain our high standards for the training.”

Although Viale and Zieminch ultimately aspire to create a school that turns out professional dancers, they still believe ballet training is beneficial to all those who study.

“You get the sense of what you can do and you learn where your limits are and how to challenge your limits, how to push yourself further,” Zieminch said of ballet. “I think it’s a good thing even if you don’t want to become a professional dancer. Those are good qualities to learn for everyday life.”

Viale and Zieminch hail from Torino, Italy, and Riga, Latvia, respectively.

Zieminch trained at the Riga Choreographic Institute, the school that produced Mikhail Baryshnikov, after being one of 17 young boys selected out of a group of approximately 5,000. After graduation, he danced principal roles for the Latvian National Opera and Ballet Theatre. He later immigrated to the U.S. and joined New York City Ballet.

Viale trained at the acclaimed Acadamie de la Danse Princess Grace in Monaco. After dancing for ballet companies in her native Italy, her professional career took her to Switzerland and then to the U.S., where she was a principal dancer for Ballet Internationale.

Ballet Arte students perform twice a year in “The Nutcracker” at Christmastime and a spring performance. The spring performance features repertoire from famous ballets. This year featured “La Bayadere,” and previous years have included “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty.”

About 70 percent of students participate, and many families structure their travel plans around performances.

“We are going with the classical repertoire so that the children are being exposed to the classics from an early age,” Zieminch said. “And that’s what I think also helps you understand dance a little bit better and get into the flow of understanding the delivery of the message. There’s always a story you are trying to show, it’s not just going out and doing movement.”

The school also offers a summer intensive. “Most of the kids who sign up (for the summer intensive) are those who really want to dance and really want to learn,” Viale said. “So it’s always a very important experience for us and for them.”

In addition to classical ballet, the studio offers jazz and Pilates. Next year, they would like to introduce modern dance, as today’s professional ballet dancer is expected to be versatile.

Complementing his dance background, Zieminch has a diploma in kinesiology.

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