Aspiring ballet company finds home on West Pikes Peak Ave.

       Colorado City was originally a working-class town, and many of the workers' early homes still stand around the 2200 block of West Pikes Peak Avenue.
       Who'd ever guess that a building in that block would become a home for world-class ballet?
       And yet, there it is, the Peak Ballet Theatre, a non-profit professional company and school inside a 65-year-old former church at 2228 W. Pikes Peak. The biographies of the three principal members - dancers Anna Duvall and Jonathan Guise and school director Megan Yacko - are replete with major troupes/ organizations such as the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Boston Ballet, Florida Ballet and the Colorado Springs Philharmonic (“The Nutcracker”).
       Seeking to raise money for future endeavors, Peak Ballet will present the first in a series of monthly performances in the converted church Sunday, Feb. 20. Titled “For the Love of Dance,” the estimated two-hour event will include a catered “Mediterranean Candle-light Dinner” and the professional company performing parts from “Romeo & Juliet,” “Giselle” and the “Moldau.” Also performing from the company will be Melanie Altemose and Ben Luttrell. During interludes, area musician Kate Hurley will entertain on guitar and keyboards.
       Ticket prices are $125 for one admission and $200 for two. The capacity is 40. People will sit at tables, where they can dine and watch. RSVPs are requested at 632-7511. Ensuing fund-raiser/performances will be on the second Sunday of each month, Duvall said.
       Regardless how many of Peak Ballet's Pikes Peak Avenue neighbors attend the show, troupe members said they derive pleasure from their studio's Westside location. From the sprawling, two-story building with its surprisingly danceable “sprung” wood floor to the interested residents who wander in sometimes to watch rehearsals, “The Westside is so eclectic,” Yacko said. “You meet people from all over.”
       After co-founding Peak Ballet in 2000, Yacko moved the organization to its current address two and a half years ago. She'd heard a story about famous dancer Cleo Parker Robinson transforming a converted church into a studio. “I was so struck by her story,” Yacko said. “When I saw this huge old building, I thought, 'That's it. I've got to have this.' ”
       No small amount of work went into fixing up the interior. Yacko re-called hours spent sanding the 1600 square feet of hardwood floor. Now the school she directs there (classes are at night, while the ballet company uses it during the daytime) has 300 students, coming from as far away as Monument and Pueblo.
       Her classes for young dancers (ages 8 to 18) are geared to those who want to make a career of ballet. There are also less intense classes for adults. Yacko said her oldest student is 66 years old.
       The fund-raisers are intended to help the professional company “revamp,” as Duvall put it, and become the kind of force in that art form that has not previously been known in Colorado Springs.
       After joining as a dancer last fall, she became artistic director in January. Although the company currently has just four members, she wants it to grow in the manner of a major company. “Our goal is to become better known, to have really high quality pieces and dancers,” she said. “I think it's better to have a couple of high quality dancers than several who are not.”
       Guise, also associate director of the Colorado Springs Ballet Academy, shares Duvall's belief that Peak Ballet's future lies in setting the bar high. “We're a real professional company,” he said. “Anna and I have danced for major companies, in front of crowds of 30,000 people. We do the really hard stuff. We'll be a leader someday in the arts coalition for Colorado Springs.”
       Another indication of Peak Ballet's direction is that the main target of the fund-raising is for a better floor. Even though, as Yacko commented, the old building's floor is “one of the best in Colorado Springs,” it's still not up to the standards of a major company, both she and Duvall pointed out. The idea would be to obtain an elevated wood floor - one that does not sit on concrete (or unforgiving crossbeams). Such a floor would provide the necessary “give” that top dancers need to lessen the odds of leg injuries on major jumps.
       There is a question of how much longer Peak Ballet will remain on the Westside. Yacko noted that the building is coming up for sale next month, and Peak Ballet is not yet sure if it will try to buy it or seek a location elsewhere. “It's going to be hard to let it go,” she said. “We love the Westside.”

Westside Pioneer article