Maria Dare Dance History Collection
The Selling Hirsch Building was an unforgettable experience, located on SW Washington at the corner of 10th Street. Retail shops occupied the lower floor. The 2nd and 3rd floors belonged to the arts. The Ballet House began in a large studio on the 2nd floor. This location is referred to as the “Old Old Studio.” The Vasilieff School was on the 3rd floor. The Ballet House closed when Maria and Sergei moved to Hollywood where Maria studied dance, performed in film and early television shows. Several Ballet House dancers also relocated to Los Angeles. Sergei opened the Ballet Shop, a dance supply store in LA.
When the Selling Hirsh building was scheduled for demolition, Maria moved The Ballet House to the corner of Burnside and SW 13th - still on the top floor. 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.)
"Oh, how I miss ...
The quiet inner contemplation
during the barre's construction,
the little war with body parts,
the happiness of flying
across a huge floor.
The incredible feeling
of wellness as a reward."
La Scala Program
, Feb. 1941
Above La Scala program credited:
Above: Ballet House Barre in the “Old, Old Studio,” Selling Hirsch bldg. Date uncertain.
Front to Back: Dorothy Newcomb, Norman, Jeanne Freitag, Unknown, Richard (Dickie) Cahill, Somebody Simpson, Unknown.
THE BALLET HOUSE
An Evening Of MUSIC
And The DANCE
Saturday, December 13th 1941
BALLET CLUB THEATER
918 S.W. Washington Street,
Left: Monday Music Club
Inside: "If music be the food of love, play on." Shakespeare.
Ballet, Courtesy of Ballet House
R. DONALD DARE, Director
Ballet-Marie Boehme, soloist
Dancers: Katherine Benninghoff, Georgia Andrews, Caroliena Wade,
The Ballet House 19
Above: In "Old Studio" 3rd Floor, Selling Hirsch building, Portland OR, 3rd from left, Elizabeth Chenowith. The others remain to be identified.
In the 1960‘s, when I climbed the beautiful hardwood staircase of the Selling Hirsch, a wonderful Bohemian Bakery was located at the beginning of the stairway to freedom. Teachers of music occupied small studios. I usually passed sounds of a vocalist practicing chords, then music from a harp floated to my ears. It put me in the right mood to dance every time.
Above: In "Old Old Studio, 2nd Floor Selling Hirsch building, Portland OR.
Above: Ballet House Program: Portland OR,
By 1960, The Ballet House was was a leading professional preparation school, and 1 of the top 5 studios in Portland. During these years advanced ballet classes got an extra jolt of energy from former students, dropping in for class while on vacation from professional dance careers. The studio hosted many amazing master classes from gifted teachers. 1960-1961, Master Classes were conducted by Michael Somes (Royal Ballet of London); George Zoritch (Ballet Russe); Ruth Page (Chicago Opera Ballet);
Karoun Tootikian (Ethnic Dance Ruth St. Denis Foundation, Hollywood.) In later years, The Ballet House served as a private rehearsal studio for Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev while they were on tour in Portland. Robert Joffrey conducted audition classes. In 1963 about 125 Porltand dancers attended an audition class at The Ballet House, desiring to appear in Bolshoi Ballet’s “Ballet School” segment of the “Stars of the Bolshoi,” held at Portland auditorium. 30 dancers were selected and paid $10 each for performing on stage (the standard was $2 each.)
Sergei Dare died in 1967.
Maria continued to teach and operate The Ballet House alone. In the 1970s the Selling-Hirsch Building was sold, scheduled for destruction. Maria Dare was forced to relocate The Ballet House. A parking lot now occupies the location where cherished Selling Hirsch once stood..
Above: Maria's Saturday Morning Class
back row, left to right: Susan Jacobs, Sandra Bruce, Lynn Stafford, JoAnne McLeod, Janet Towner, Char Simantel, Maria Dare,
front row, left to right: Unknown, Barbara Spears, Dagmar,
The Ballet House Masters in their final performance, May 1998, at Neptune's Ballet Classics, Seaside OR. Show dedicated to Maria Dare.
top row: Sandy Fuchter, Lee Hunt, Joe Lerma Jr,
Rozanne, JoAnne McLeod, Patti Hobizol,
bottom row: Sherry Flemming, Brynna Hurwitz,
Jane Meskill, Char Simantel,
Not in pic: Kenneth and Roberta Waymire
Above: Dorothy Neelan, Doris Lottridge (often taught the Mexican/Folkloric Dance for Maria), Alicia?, Ann Williams (Maria had two students named Ann Williams), JoAnne McLeod
The transition from professional preparation to adult ballet had begun before the move. By the 1990‘s about 99% of the students were over age 21. Maria Vegh was one of the last to conduct a week long intensive workshop at The Ballet House. Most of the students that attended came from other studios. The doors to Ballet House closed permanently, and unexpectedly, on Thursday, 3 Oct 1997, the day Maria died,.
Above: Ballet House Program: Portland OR, July 1963
Above: Ballet House Program: Portland OR, Sept. 1963
Above: Maria's Saturday Late Morning Class, "New Studio."
Ted del Valle Jr. & Georgia Andrews. Del Valle was a shipfitter. After 9 hr. shifts, at Swan Island, he went to The Ballet House for ballet classes. He preferred ballet to other forms of dancing because, “it requires a broader scope of imagination and offers more variety.” After the war, he planned to go to New York to study dance. from Bosn’s Whistle,
Vol. 5, No. 23,
June 8, 1945.
Char. Rozanne, Nancy Beth Falloon,
(Nancy was on vacation from New York.)
Above & Below: The back story
According to Rozanne, "It was time for my favorite, 'Traditional Grande' ballet. Students flowed singularly across the floor, each starting 8 counts after the previous student, except one who couldn’t count to 8. On this eve, Maria decided enough was enough. She stopped the student and explained the need to start in time with the music. While stopped, a few other corrections were tossed in. The music began again. The student started on 7 and was stopped again. We were on the 4th start over, when pic below was snapped. Other students were kind, pretending not to notice. They looked away, chatted in whisper mode, Nancy Beth checked her manicure. I, on the other hand, gave the student my ‘how dare you hold me up’ glare. We eventually got to the other side. On return, the student started on 9 and was stopped again."
Nancy Beth Falloon
went on to Julliard, then settled into performing on Broadway and has lived in NY, NY ever since. Her career has spanned a wide range, from opera tour to a comedian wearing pointe shoes. As of 2017, she continues to appear in New York ballet and opera productions.
danced in New York, Ballet Russe Co.. When she came home for vacation and attended my class, I always danced twice as hard trying to keep up with her
Jeannie Bell went on to School of San Francisco Ballet
Above: Cheryl Peterson
She went to New York to dance, got married, had 2 kid
Above: Anne Marie Niemi got married. I've heard that she lives and teaches in SW Washington.
after returning to Germany, where he choreographed and danced professionally
And Then Came Horst,
a professional dancer from Germany who came to study with Sergei Dare. Horst rekindled Sergei’s desire to launch a ballet company. By July 1963, The Ballet House had a “Ballet Oregon.” The company was short lived. Most of Maria and Sergei’s polished dancers preferred the spotlights in New York and California. By 1963, Sergei was 76 years old. Even though Sergei continued to teach excellent classes, his health was beginning to fail. Horst remained at The Ballet House for a couple of years, but found the USA’s lack of support of the arts discouraging. Horst returned to Germany where he danced and choreographed for decades.
Above: Shirley Orbeck, Janet Hurst, Rozanne
(Little did we know that day, we would all be dance teachers
Above: Maria Vegh Summer Intensive held at The Ballet House, June 18- 29, 1973, in The "New Studio" SW 13th and Burnside, Portland OR. Most students were from other studios.
began ballet as an adult but was a fast study, Flamenco/Spanish dance fueled her passion. Annual trips to Spain expanded her knowledge base. She became Viviana Flamenco of Portland, teaching and performing regularly. She retired in 2017.
Above: Horst Krause
after returning to Germany. Pic sent to me by one of his friends a few years ago. I believe it was taken on his birthday. His surprise gift, a well endowed belly dancer, has been edited from the photo.
Above: Phil Collins enjoys a jump combo
in the old studio