Maria Dare Dance History Collection

Maria (Boehme) Dare

We all knew The Ballet House guest seating area and dressing rooms had corners where walls connected to the floor - but we never saw them. There were stacks and stacks of something neatly arranged beneath dust cloths. When I needed a memory refresher about a dance, the easiest thing for me was to ask Maria. Out of the unlabeled stacks came her notes. She seemed to know exactly were everything was.

Maria Dare’s death was unexpected for we all assumed she was immortal. She left no direct heir, only distant relatives.  (None were connected to the dance world.)  A public estate sale was held at The Ballet House.  It lasted only a few hours. We, her loyal students, arrived to see Maria’s "stacks" spread out and they consumed the entire studio. We frantically grabbed this and that which had been re-bundled for the sale in a way that would bring in the dollars, but not preserve the collection’s integrity.  In an effort to keep the collection together, several of her students, pooled their resources and purchased items for the Maria Dare Dance History Collection. We  madly rushed about - one hand grabbing items for the group collection while the other hand grabbed items for personal use.

The collection was then split and stored at Portland Dance Academy, Portland OR and at Quest Ballet Academy Seaside Oregon. Over the years some students have added their private collections to the group collection, and the bulk of the collection has gravitated into the hands of Rozanne of zandance, who continues to put the pieces back together.
A Special Thanks to
Original Contributors:
Julianne Byrine, Rozanne, Sherry Fleming, Sandy Fuchter, Patricia Hobizal, Joe Lerma Jr, JoAnne McLeod, Mary Jane Sposito, Janet Towner. 
Additional Contributions by:
JoAnne McLeod and Julianne Byrine.

Additional Thanks to:
JoAnne McLoed
Over the years JoAnne has done a great deal to organize and catalog contents.
John Gardner
Who stored a portion of contents and has since provided historical information.
Nancy Beth Falloon
For her efforts to identify photos and gather information..

Note to Former Ballet House Students:
If you have dance notes from Maria's Estate Sale  please contact Rozanne.
A memorial performance was held at the Imago Theatre in her honor. She would of loved the wonderful dancing that went on. At the end, we all joined together to do her reverence that we had done for decades, but this time we all knew we were doing it for the last time
Maria was a dancer, teacher and choreographer.  Most of all, she was a good person with a dancing soul.  She devoted at least 76 years of her life to the dance.  She made many scarifies for the dance.  For example Maria once shared that a non-dancing friend did not understand how Maria could survive without a washer and dryer, yet spend outrageous prices for tickets to a ballet performance.  The year before Maria died, I asked her, “was it worth it?”  She was silent for a moment as her mind reviewed decades of memories.  Then a smile came to her face as she replied, “Yes.”  Then I asked her, “If you had it to do over, would you change anything?” Without hesitation, she replied, “No.”

Early Years
Upon hearing of the promised land, the Boehme family immigrated from Germany to Arkansas, arriving in 1883. They quickly discovered the new land was not exactly as promising as represented. Maria's father Frank Boehme and parents moved to Portland Oregon by 1900. Maria’s mother, Emma Tauchmann (Tauckmann) also immigrated from Germany in 1883 and by 1900, she was living in Pleasant Hill, Clackamas Oregon (near present day Wilsonville.)  Frank and Emma married in 1909 and Maria Boehme was born in Portland 3 Aug 1911. Their home built by Maria's father was on NE 7th Ave near Burnside in Portland.

When Maria was finally old enough to go outside the house and meet new playmates, she realized the people outside her home spoke a different language. She realized that if she was going to make new friends she was going to have to learn to speak English and fast. (I never heard her speak anything but English until about 1995 - we found some old books in her family's attic. She blew the dust off of one and began reading it in fluent German. She then confided to me that, even after all the decades, her brain thought in German and then translated the words to English before she spoke them. I was surprised for her words always flowed like a dance with excellent English grammar.

Maria began dance classes from a nearby teacher. The name of the teacher is unknown.  Maria's family did not believe in dancing, but Maria could not understand how anything so beautiful could be wrong. I suspect Maria saw Mme. Elinova Linden in performance and wanted what she had. Maria was a student of the Lindendare School December 1930 - July 1935, for she kept notes on her classes and corrections given.  A newspaper clip notes that Maria Boehme and Marcelle Renoux were to perform on June 5th. (It is suspected that the year was 1931.) Maria was to perform a Scotch Toe Dance. 

At the Lindendare School, classes in Castanets, Spanish dance, Folk, and Character were added to Maria's ballet schedule. She was trained in Vagonova Technique, and learned choreography created by Anna Pavlowa. Her Instructors had also studied with several noted European Masters, including Checcitti, Karsavina, and Trefilova. The Lindendare school,under direction of Mme. Elinova and Sergei Dare, performed rigorously in the Portland area. The Lindendare School desolved along with the marriage of the owners.
Maria's Career Blossoms:
Maria taught briefly for the Volinoff School of Dance in Denver Colorado, as Maria Boemeva. This is suggested by a hand written music sheet for Mexican Handkerchief Dance. No date appears on the music sheet but other sheet music indicates the Volinoff School of Denver operated from 1934 to 1939. By Dec. 1940, The Ballet House was operating in Portland Oregon under the direction of Sergei Dare and Maria Boehme was a big part of it. She was a frequent performer in the Portland area, involved with the La Scala Opera in Feb. 1941. By 1943 Maria Boehme had established her dance reputation. The listing in Polk's Portland City Directory states, "Ballet House (Maria Boehme) dancing sch 918 SW Wash." A handwritten music sheet for El Abanico, dated 1944, states that is was for Spanish Dance with Fan and Castenets and taught at Ballet House by Maria Boehme. The music appears to be in Sergei's hand and has the initials "RDD" on it indicating that it was owned by him. (This particular copy of the music also has "K. Benninghoff"on it, most likely indicating that it was her copy.)  Another sheet of handwritten music with "RDD" titled "Holland Kiddie" states "Character Dance, for Maria Boehme" but unfortunately has no date. The Ballet House closed sometime after 1947, when Maria moved to Los Angeles to study dance. (It would re-open a few years later.)
In Los Angeles CA
While in Los Angeles (1948-March 1950) Maria studied ballet, pointe, Pas de deux, regularly from Eugene Loring, Mary Clare Sales, Viola Essen (a la Celli style), Margaret Westberg at the American School of Dance. There were classes with Bronslava Nijinski, Frederick Aston and Edward Caton. She also studied with the Casino Studio and improved her skills in Flamenco and Hindu dance. While there she performed on stage and in films. In 1949 she returned to Oregon briefly and taught in Eugene. During this period, Sergei Dare had a dance supply store in Hollywood. Maria and Sergei married in California.
Evolution of  Maria Dare Adult Ballet
Portland was changing around the time Maria relocated The Ballet House to 13th and Burnside.  Families were moving away from city center, shopping at malls.   Moms were becoming career women rather than kid transporters. The established studios such as The Ballet House, located in downtown Portland, began to see a decline in young student enrollments.  The Ballet House had always been a professional preparation, but from the 1970s onward, Maria found herself teaching beginning ballet steps to men and women ages 20 to 70.  She figured out how to teach intermediate and advanced students within the same class, pushing each to his or her limits, boring none.  In the late 1970s I returned to the Ballet House for a class to discover Maria's class was the same great class yet quite different. The evolution into a style of ballet especially good for the adult body had begun. By the 1990's The Ballet House had an all adult clientele, with few exceptions.  Thus the Maria Dare Adult Ballet Style was born.  Maria was always to busy doing to stop and realize that she had created something grand. Her adult style ballet is a remarkable gift to us all. In Maria's classes the 50+ year old moved fluidly across the floor as easily as the 19 yr old.
Return to Portland OR
Maria's father died in 1938. By 1949, it was clear that Maria's mother needed her Help. Maria and Sergei  returned to Portland and re-opened The Ballet House, in the same location  It was a profession preparation school.  Many world renown dancers gave master classes.  Many students went on to seek the bright stage lights of professional ballet.  Sergei taught Ballet & Character.  Maria taught Ballet, Spanish/Mexican Folk, Flamenco, and Hindu. When Sergei died in 1967, Maria continued to teach and operate the studio alone, teaching all of the above named classes.  

The Ballet House remained on the top floor of the Selling Hirsch Building until the building was demolished in 1971. Maria moved the The Ballet House to its final location on SW 13th and Burnside.  No pictures of Maria were displayed at either studio location. Maria's walls were reserved for those dancers she considered far greater than herself.
Maria’s Finale
On a Thursday, 3 Oct, 1997, Maria taught her classes.  Later a student of one class noted that the class was especially inspired, and Maria had given a little extra feedback to each student. The next day, the noon Friday students arrived to find the studio door locked. They immediately knew something was very wrong.
A small group went to Maria’s residence and found her dead.  She had died at dinner the night before, age 86.  Maria performed her entire dance life.  So, instead of a funeral, she was given a performance at Imago Theatre.  At the end of the performance, her students performed her reverence for the last time, and retired it.

Maria was a teacher of teachers. She has stimulated the heart of ballet. She has influenced the development of dance in Astoria, Eugene, Hood River, Portland, Roseburg, Seaside, OR, and Vancouver WA to name a few, either by giving master classes in those places, and/or by having students who became teachers in those places.   And so, Maria live on in the hearts of many.


Stage Names:

Maria Boehme, Maria Boemeva,

Maria Dare

Register-Guard, Eugene OR,
Aug 11, 1949.
Ballet Artist to Aid School
“Maria Dare, formerly of Ballet House in Portland, will be in Eugene Friday to assist Katherine Scott at the latter’s school of ballet in WOW Hall, 8th and Lincoln

Streets.  Mrs. Scott is reassembling her classes, the intermediate and advanced groups, for special lessons from the artist-instructor.  Miss Dare for the past year has been appearing in ballet and Spanish dances on the stage in television shows, and just now is coming from Hollywood; shere she has completed a session of television work."
Above:  Joan Smith’s birthday party in LA.  Joan on left.  Dick Cahil on floor to her right.  Maria far right.  Photo of Maria in pink tutu hangs on wall.
Maria's Saturday Early Morning Class, "New Studio."
back row, left to right: Barbara Spears, Lynn Stafford, Kris Martens, JoAnne McLeod, Susan Jacobs, Janet Towner,
front row, left to right: Maria Dare, Char (Charlene) Simantel,
Joe began ballet after age 40.  Here Maria is preparing him for his 1st stage performance and suggesting choreaography..
Frank began ballet after age 40.  After above dance rehearsal, Maria said, "Not half bad."  Both Frank and Rozanne were elated.  It took a lot of work to reach Maria's "Not Half Bad" mark.
Maria teaching
Above: Edwardo and Elisa Casino, from Dance Magazine, April 1930.
Above: A photo of Maria (date uncertain) probably in "Old Studio," and pics from her Memorial Service held at Imago Theatre, Portland OR
Above: A surprise birthday party for Maria.  Held after Saturday classes.  A number of her students danced for her.  She was delighted.
Maria was quite good at partnering and teaching men to look manly when they danced.  I recall a private class with Frank and I, when Frank was learning to dance with a partner.  Frank was twice the size of Maria.  She swarmed around him, poking here, poking there. Frank flinched into improved alignment with each polk.  After several minutes of swarming, Franks positioning was acceptable and she allowed him to solidify in that stance.
For more pics, programs, students, and info
see  The Ballet House
Above: Maria Dare in "New Studio" abt. 1990
Above:  Maria on left, others remain to be identified.  Date uncertain.
Above:  Maria continued to perform.  Date of this photo unknown.
Updated: Feb. 21, 2021
© = R. W. Faulkner