By Terri Carr
Upper Montgomery County families thinking about summer plans will be excited to learn about a new Clarksburg dance studio opening this summer.
The Metropolitan Ballet Theatre (MBT), headquartered in Gaithersburg, is opening a second location at 22530 Gateway Center Dr. in Clarksburg. In addition to classical ballet, the 7000-square-foot studio will offer classes in jazz, street jazz, modern dance and hip-hop. For young children ages three and up, MBT offers creative movement and early ballet classes.
With a solid base of students in the Gaithersburg area, MBT had been considering possible expansion plans in the next one to five years. Executive Director Paula Ross said, “We did a geographic study of where our student base was coming from and we noticed it trended northward the last few years.”
Both the Gaithersburg and Clarksburg studios are in similar flexible-use spaces in an industrial park with free parking. MBT hopes the Clarksburg location will be more convenient for many people in northern Montgomery County.
Elizabeth Odell Catlett, MBT artistic director, said MBT’s programs are open to dancers at all levels of experience and ambition. “If you want to become a professional ballet dancer and pursue a pre-professional track, we can provide that for you. If you want to take one jazz class a week, we can provide that for you. If you want to become a contemporary dancer on Broadway, we have the program for you!”
MBT faculty member Michelle Bettin will be the academy director for the Clarksburg studio. She has a strong background in professional performance and teaching.
According to Catlett, all students aged seven to adult are invited to perform in the theatre’s holiday production of “The Nutcracker.” Children younger than seven can star in the Young Dancer Showcase held at the end of each semester at the MBT’s Black Box Theatre in Gaithersburg.
There are additional performance opportunities during the annual spring show and a few shows at schools and community events throughout the year.
While many sports teach teamwork and coordination, dance, with its performance aspect, takes things to a whole new level. Catlett said, “Dancers have to be able to learn choreography and listen to the music. It is extremely important for dancers to be musical. They also have to act and perform for the audience to portray a feeling or character.”
At MBT, the instructors teach dancers how to move safely to prevent injuries. The Clarksburg studio will be equipped with sprung dance floor, a wooden platform positioned a few inches above the foundation. The floorboard flexes and moves in response to the dancers jumps, which lessens the chance of injury.
Keep an eye out for free preview classes and open house sessions in late August.