Maria Dare Dance History Collection
"Remember Our Roots"

The Ballet House

Portland, Oregon (1940-1997)


In 1960, The Ballet House was one of the top 5 dance studios in Portland Oregon.  Since one of the 5 was Billings, a Ballroom dance school, The Ballet House was one of the top 4 for ballet.  The Collection contains only a few programs and dancer names from this era.
1960 Ballet House Recital fielded 32 dancers including a guest, Don Houk. Maria performed her solo Sevilla.  She & Don performed Le Cid ballet’s Pas de Deux and a Siamese Table Dance.  Karoun Tootikian’s version of Swan Lake was performed with Maria as Swan Queen, Don as Sorcerer and Nancy Beth Falloon as Prince.  The Bullfight solo was performed by Robin Naverrett.  Cheryl Petersen performed in 7 dances, Carmen Henderson in 5.
1960 Recital
Dancer Names &
number of dances performed.
Christine Andersen (3)
Laurie Ann Bearson (4)
Jeanie Bel (3)
Claire Bolton (1)
Rosemary Boscole (1)
Nancy Boyer (1)
Lee Bunch (1)
Janice Chappell (1)
Jo Cretan (1)
Darlene Cullen (1)
Chris Davis (4),
Nanci Falloon (2)
Brenda Fleming (1)
Leroy Harvey (1)
Carmen Henderson (5)
Janet Hunt (1)
Cheryl Hyde (1)
Fay Teni Levender (1)
Odette Liedtka (1)
Doris Lottridge (1)
Diane Louthan (2)
Larry Mason (1)
Toni Mastrandrea (1)
Darlene McOmie (1)
Robin Naverrett (3)
Shirley Orbeck (1)
Judith Ann Packard (2)
Cheryl Petersen (7)
Jeannie Routtu (3)
Mary Ann Siebert,
Jean Soldos (1)
Suni Thurlow (3)
Osa Woodside (4)
1963 Dancers listed in programs
Maria Dare,
Horst Krause
Don Houk,
Chris Davis,
Denise Hiretel,
Toni Mastrandrea
Anne Marie Niemi,
Shirley Orbeck,
Cheryl Petersen
Rozanne White
Ethnic Dance Theatre
Karoun Tootikian
Sonja Hook,
Lalla Lezli
Rosemary Silva,
In early 1960s, Serge Dare once again tried to fulfill his dream of having his own company.  He started Ballet Oregon.  About that time Don Houlk began performing with the Ballet House.  Hosrt Krause, a professional dancer from Germany came to study with Serge.  Karoun Tootikian added the Ballet House to her tour schedule.  Nationally recognized dancers were engaged for Master Classes.  In 1960-61, Master Classes were given by Michael Somes,  George ZoritchRuth Page, and Karoun Tootkian.
Serge Dare remained a bright light, but age and failing health added responsibilities to Maria's life.  Serge continued to teach brilliant advanced ballet classes.  In 1967, he taught his wonderful class from a wheelchair.  Getting him up the 3 flights of stars to the studio was an ordeal. (It was in a time before handicap parking and ramped sidewalks.) He died soon after he was unable to get to the studio, He was 80 yrs. old.
Ballet Oregon was short lived.  Don Houlk moved to Japan. Horst Krause returned to Germany.  Ballet House’s strong dancers flew the coup in search of acceptance to nationally recognized companies.  Carol Hines joined Ballet Russe, Nancy Beth Falloon to Julliard, then New York, Jeane Bell to School of San Francisco Ballet Co., Cheryl Peterson went to study in New York.


After Serge died, Maria Dare carried on alone. 
Teaching beginning thru advanced Ballet, Spanish, Hula, Hindu, left little time for large scale recitals. She conducted small recitals in the studio.  There were numerous performances in community events, such as the opening of the Galleria.
About 1973, the Selling -Hirsch building was scheduled for demolition.  Climbing the hardwood staircase from a Bohemian bakery, past music of harp and voice, inspired the soul.  At the top, a marvelous dance floor, with high ceilings, beckoned dancers to reach beyond themselves, to spread wings and soar.  Gone forever more.


Due to closure of Selling-Hirsh building, Maria moved The Ballet House to the corner of SW 13th and Burnside. It was still on the top floor, but a much shorter fight of stairs and far less intriguing.. The space had been a beatnik coffee house.  Maria repainted the studio and entrance.  The wild dark colors from it’s former life remained in other areas.  Maria also had a new floor installed.  The dressing room was soundproof for it was once a recording studio. In 1963, the rock n roll hit, "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen was recorded there. (This recording almost became Oregon’s state song.)
Over the next 2 decades, Portland grew and changed.  Families retreated from central locations to suburbs.  Moms, once the backbone of student transport and studio costuming went to work.  For these reasons, fewer and fewer children came to City Center to take dance classes. 
The Ballet House continued to host Master Classes and Auditions.  Maria Vegh conducted a summer intensive.  Robert Joffrey held audition classes for his summer school.  Maria's own students were greatly outnumbered by students from outlying studios.
The decline in young students was offset by a growing number of adults who decided it was okay to stay physically fit by dancing.  The Ballet House evolved into an all adult clientele for beginning thru advanced students.  Maria developed ways to allow students at different levels to dance in the same class without getting into each others hair, or holding advanced dancers back to intermediate levels.  For example, a 70 year old woman who began ballet after a heart attack danced next to a 20 year old.
Ballet House became home away from home for beginners, former students, teachers, and those returning to Portland after a professional dance career.
In October, 1997, the Friday noon class
arrived to find Ballet House door locked.
The students knew something was very
wrong.  They went to Maria’s apartment
to find she had died the previous evening.
The Ballet House lives on in dancing hearts.
Revised:  April 2022
Page by Rozanne of Zandance