After teaching ballet for 30 years, Ann Benedict, director of Northern Ballet and Performing Arts, has a customized studio space with a permanent barre and soon-to-be full wall of mirrors.

The NBPA studio is located at 106 E Main Street inside the former J&J Trading Co. building now owned by Dan and Trisha Macrae who completely gutted the interior after purchasing it as investment rental space in 2010.

Benedict approached them early in the renovation process at the possibility of creating a ballet studio and they customized the space to her specifications, which will also be rented to others on days she does not use it.

The space has a permanent ballet barre, recessed lighting, new flooring, a back dressing room, and two half bathrooms nearby. Benedict said she is most excited about the opportunity to have full wall of mirrors, although they are not yet installed.

A two-way mirror will also be built in one wall for parents to see their children during classes as Benedict said they perform differently knowing their parents are watching.

Dan Macrae said they also have space in the front of the building they plan to design for retail store front and will have 10 units of temperature-controlled storage units in the back for rent as well.

Benedict started classes at the new Main Street studio on Sept. 11 and teaches students of all ages and skill levels three full days a week. She teaches about 40-45 students per year, which is a substantial number for this size area, she said.

They do a large annual performance each spring called the Northern Ballet and Performing Arts Festival, in addition to performances at Chataqua and other opportunities as they become available. The festival will continue at the Colville High School Auditorium as Benedict said she likes to have a nice stage for that event.

Benedict grew up in Los Angeles and studied ballet since she was seven years old. She had a rigorous training schedule taking multiple ballet classes a week as well as jazz and modern styles. She received scholarships from two major dance schools, attended the American School of Dance in Hollywood, performed with the L.A. Dance Theatre, and studied under many renowned artists.

“I had incredible teachers, the tops in the business,” Benedict said.

In 1980, after she had stopped dancing, Benedict moved to Valley, Wash. to raise a family. She said she always knew that she wanted to move out of the city and discovered Valley while visiting family in the area.

“It’s a breathtakingly beautiful place,” Benedict said.

Although she did not originally plan to teach ballet, she quickly found a demand for it in the area. She taught once a week off and on in Valley throughout the years, but that eventually grew to three days a week in Chewelah. She originally taught at the Chewelah Senior Hall and then moved to the Chewelah Civic Center.

She teaches Checceti-style ballet, which focuses on core placement, as it is what she learned during the majority of her training and education.

“I enjoy teaching because of the sense of core strength,” Benedict said. “I love ballet, giving the kids opportunity to learn art, obtain discipline, and know perseverance.”

“I love getting talent and seeing it grow, it’s so exciting,” she added.

For more information on NBPA, contact Benedict at 937-2150.

By Kellie Trudeau, The Independent

In This Photo: Ballet students at Northern Ballet Performing Arts practice on the ballet barre in the new studio at 106 E. Main Avenue.

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