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.)
When Maria and Sergei Dare returned to Portland from LA, they reopened The Ballet House.  The exact date is uncertain.  A news clip dated Aug. 11 1949, regards Maria teaching in Eugene and refers to Maria as “formerly of The Ballet House.”  With certainty The Ballet House was open in 1950.  Rebuilding the studio was difficult.  They were open for 5 months before their 1st student enrolled.  Soon after, there were 3.

The Ballet House reopened in its former location, 2nd floor studio of the Selling Hirsch Building, on SW Washington and 10th Street.  By 1953, The Ballet House had moved to the 3rd floor of the same building.  This top floor studio is referred to as the “Old Studio.”  It was formerly occupied by Mr. V.(Vasilieff). Florence Pickett, a former New York City Rockette, taught dance in the 2nd floor studio of Portland’s Selling Hirsch building, formerly occupied by The Ballet House.  Florence Pickett closed her studio about 1954 to become Konnie Worth, Portland’s 1st talk show host on KGW TV.
"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."
___Shirley  Orbeck
The Ballet House began by 1941, as a professional preparation school under the direction of Sergei Dare (R. Donald Dare) upon his return to Portland Oregon. (From where? Perhaps Denver Colorado, or Seattle Washington, or...)  Initially, Maria Boehme was an instructor and lead dancer.  By February,1941 Maria and Sergei were active in Portland’s performing arts as demonstrated by the La Scala program. The Ballet House offered the same content as The Lindendare School - ballet, toe, adage, character, Spanish/Flamenco, Mexican Folk.  Hula classes were also taught. (Hindu dance classes were probably added after 1950.).  After Sergei and Maria married, (1943) The Ballet House became co-owned and operated.

The Ballet House

in the


Old Old Studio,



La Scala Program

, Feb. 1941

Portland OR,  (click program for transcription.
Above La Scala program credited:
Dances created by Donald Dare of La Scala, Milan.
Prima Ballerina Maria Boehme.
Guest artiste of Ballet Natasche Elinova.

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.
An Evening Of MUSIC
Saturday, December 13th 1941
918 S.W. Washington Street,
Portland, Oregon

Program Left Transcribed:
Left: Monday Music Club
Cover, 1943
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,
Marian Kropp
Program Left Transcribed
The “New Studio”

The Ballet House

in the


Old Studio,




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.
Left: There were several copies of this picture, indicating it was something special.  It has been identified as a master class, or summer workshop in the Old Old Studio  New York Dance Critic, David Vaughn, and Ballerina Rosella Hightower, have identified Alicia Markova, at center, and the Dance Master as Anton Dolin.  Another expert has stated it is not Anton Dolin.  There is no doubt: Maria Dare is next to Markova on left.  Please view enlargements for other names in photos, and help identify the ones who remain unknown.
Nancy Beth Falloon
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,
1954 see transcription
Above: Ballet House Program: Portland OR, 1955  see transcription
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, 1960 see transcription
Above: Ballet House Program: Portland OR, July 1963
see transcription
Above: Ballet House Program: Portland OR, Sept. 1963
see transcription
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.
Above: The "Old Studio"
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.
Carol Hines
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
Carmen Henderson
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.
Horst Krause
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: Janet Hurst
At time of photo, Janet had been recently promoted into the class.  Her plie in photo suggests she was landing from a jump when photographer snapped the shot.  As an adult, she studied with several well known teachers, and is now the Artistic Director for Columbia Dance, Vancouver WA.

Above: Shirley Orbeck, Janet Hurst, Rozanne
(Little did we know that day, we would all be dance teachers
studied with a number of Portland teachers, including Florence Pickett, June Christensen (former student of Florence Pickett, Miss Renoux, briefly with Schumacher, even briefer with  Vasilieff.  She arrived at The Ballet House when she was 12 years old.  As an adult she, pursued various interests, continued to take ballet classes until Maria died.  In the 1970s Rozanne had a ballet school in North Carolina.  1987-2016, she had a ballet school in Seaside Oregon.
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. 
List of Students 1941-1997
Janet (Baxter) Towner
received most of her training at Renoux Studio of Dance.  After her professional dance career with Charles Weidman Company, she returned to Portand and joined The Ballet House.  In above pic, she is i2d left of Maria.

The Ballet House

School of Dance
Portland Oregon
Shirley Orbeck,
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
Updated: Feb. 21, 2021
© = R. W. Faulkner