Passion for dance looks for support

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A fundraiser will take place at the Studio for Performing Arts Malibu for the nonprofit group, The Passion for Dance Project, which provides dance training scholarships for those seeking a career in dance, but lack financial resources. Photo by Ruthie Brownfield/TMT

A fundraiser will take place Saturday in Malibu for the nonprofit The Passion for Dance Project.

By Ward Lauren / Special to The Malibu Times

A passion for dance seems to be growing in the nation, reflected in the popularity of such TV shows as “Dancing With the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” and Malibu is on the band wagon. Several new studios have opened here, including The Studio for Performing Arts Malibu, which is sponsoring a fundraising program Saturday for The Passion for Dance Project. The project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making dance training available to young people, 18 to 25 years of age, who are seeking professional careers but lack the financial resources.

The day will include dance workshops for intermediate and advanced dancers in various stage and ballroom styles and performances. Concluding the fundraising activities, a showcase performance of song and dance by several professional artists and groups well known in the music world, including some original works by “So You Think You Can Dance” stars.

The Passion for Dance Project was formed in Hollywood in 2004 by Ben Kleiman, hip hop dancer and teacher with the Muse Dance Company, and Kristen Marshall, a tap and jazz dancer and actress. The organization’s goal, as defined on its Web site, www.passionfordance.com, is to assist aspiring dancers, financially, emotionally and professionally so they may focus on their careers. Candidates must be able to demonstrate financial need as well as exceptional talent.

Scholarship auditions took place last Sunday, and two people were awarded one-year scholarships to prominent dance schools in the Los Angeles area, Marshall said. Dancers who are awarded scholarships become part of a six-month program called “The Experience,” which will provide dancers professional training, mentoring and direction they will need as they pursue their goals.

In this program, students are encouraged to take at least three dance classes a week. In addition, classroom sessions are held once a month covering various topics such as how to find and use the proper resources to become successful in dance, how to audition and even how to eat right and stay healthy, Marshall said.

The Passion for Dance Project came to the attention of Cindy Short, who heads fundraising activities for The Studio for Performing Arts Malibu, when she attended a fundraising program of the organization in North Hollywood last year. In it she saw the perfect opportunity to kick off the Malibu studio’s planned series of fundraising dance events.

“I was looking for something to connect Malibu to the contemporary dance world, to enrich our community,” she said. “There’s a lot of interest in dance in Malibu, and I could see that the quality of instructors and performers involved in The Passion for Dance Project would stimulate this latent interest.”

Short said Saturday’s event is planned to be the first of many fundraising programs hosted by the new studio, which has plans to become the cultural center for dance and other performing arts in Malibu.

The Passion for Dance Project may be brought back in the future, although fundraisers for other nonprofit organizations are already being scheduled, the next one taking place Feb. 18, Short said.

Still partially in the building stage, the new Malibu studio features three functioning dance studios, a full professional stage and complete state-of-the-art sound systems. Dance classes for both children and adults in jazz and ballet have been held since last September. The rooms are also used for Pilates programs, company rehearsals and meetings of the Malibu Fencing Club.

The Studio for Performing Arts Malibu building is located behind the new City Hall at 23825 Stuart Ranch Rd. Ample free parking is provided in lots on both sides of the building.

Saturday’s workshops and other activities begin at 11:30 a.m. and the showcase performances being at 6 p.m.

Prices for the workshops are $15 per class or $40 for three. A $10 donation is suggested for the showcase, which will take place in the studio’s 500-seat theater.

More information can be obtained by calling 323.301.5967