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© 2024 Kim Kokich

During the last weekend of February, CityDance Conservatory was pleased to host the Richmond Academy of Ballet (RAB), for a two-day visit of dance classes at our Strathmore Music Center studios in North Bethesda. 

Co-owned and co-directed by husband and wife team, Jack Bettin and Michelle Bettin, RAB first opened its doors during the pandemic in Richmond, Virginia, and has grown steadily since then. For Jack Bettin, who was once a student of our Artistic Director, Lorraine Spiegler,  the reunion was a very happy one. “I was a student at Washington Ballet. I studied in the PTP program and  I had her for Contemporary. It was great when I saw her, it was “Oh there’s Lorraine!” 

Bettin and his wife, Michelle,  arrived with 24 RAB dance students, ages 11 to 14 and 20 parent chaperones at lunchtime on Friday. Within a half-hour, after hours on the train to the DC area, these young students were eager and ready to begin a full afternoon of dance classes.   The day began with a combined ballet class with our Conservatory Pre-Professional dancers taught by our Ballet Master, Stanislav Issaev, and ended with a Modern class to wind down the day.

Saturday morning began at 9:00am, with Ballet and Pointe technique, and in the afternoon RAB dancers were invited to observe Mr. Issaev as he coached our Pre-Professional dancers in variations, contemporary solos, and pas de deux pieces. RAB students also had a chance to take a Contemporary class and a class in Horton Technique.

Bettin had not expected that such a wide range of classes would be available to his students. “I wanted them to get out of their local area and see what else is going on in the world and other places and see the context of what they’re studying.  A lot of them have choices to make. I think dance is, the more you get into it the more it gives to you but the more it takes, more sacrifices. So as the kids get older I want them to think bigger, and make choices and get an idea of what’s available to them. So I think they got that.  They got to see some kids that are super serious about dance. Lorraine and Irina [Lapteva]  were warm and welcoming and attentive and I was really happy with that, because when we came I thought we’d get one class but I love that they got to get through the whole program. I thought great, what a value for us and what a value for the kids. I was very happy that [CityDance Conservatory was] able to accommodate us. It was more than I expected and I really appreciated it.” Indeed it was a two-day whirlwind of energy and activity and judging by the comments overheard throughout the day, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

Richmond Academy of Ballet Students Arrive For 2 Day Visit
Richmond Academy of Ballet Co-Artistic Director Jack Bettin with CityDance Conservatory Founder and Artistic Director, Lorraine Spiegler.