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March 27, 2023

San Benito Dance Academy expands, enhances ballet offerings

San Benito Dance Academy has an extra bounce in its step after a recent expansion.

The Hollister-based academy recently expanded its space when a neighboring business moved out from the 101 McCray St. shopping center location.

After Farmers Insurance decided to move earlier this year from 101 McCray St., Ste. 102, San Benito Dance Academy owner Lara Lichten approached the property manager and got an OK to expand. So now the dance academy, founded in 2005, works out of four suites in the building along McCray Street near Off the Chain Bikes and Lucky supermarket.

Photos courtesy of the San Benito Dance Academy

It amounts to an additional 1,800 square feet, bringing the total to 6,500 square feet for the dance academy, said Lichten, who became owner in 2018 after founder Kim Lavagnino retired. San Benito Dance Academy now has about 10 fluctuating, independent, certified instructors and about 275 students, Lichten said.

Lichten said the expansion goes hand in hand with the studio’s concentration on classical ballet, a form of dance that is the foundation for other styles also offered at San Benito Dance Academy.

“That’s the basis for everything,” Lichten said.

She said improving the ballet program has helped the studio to retain dancers who would have otherwise moved on as they got older.

“We’re starting to kind of redesign our ballet program,” she said. “The strength of our classical ballet program has really been enhanced.”

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She noted how the new studio’s floor is particularly catered for that style. It has tile flooring that includes an “ergonomically suspended weight balancing system” to protect dancers, while it is covered with a marley top.

Along with the ballet-friendly setup, the dance academy’s suites now offers diverse flooring that’s suited for a wide range of dance types, including tap and dance that’s appropriate for younger age levels as well.

Along with the new studio flooring, the academy added other state-of-the-art technology such as glassless mirrors to protect against earthquake dangers, she said.

Additionally, on top of the additional space, San Benito Dance Academy had another exciting change happen recently when it was designated as an official Green Business through the Monterey Bay Area Green Business Program and San Benito County Integrated Waste Management.

The certification comes when a business commits to taking up such practices as composting, reducing electricity, using low-flow water fixtures and environmentally friendly cleaning products, and cutting back on paper usage.

Lichten said the academy already had been using many of the necessary practices before pursuing the certification.

“Our kids are just so excited about composting,” she said.

For more on the San Benito Dance Academy, go here.

The academy’s annual dance recital is coming up Saturday, June 15 at Sherwood Hall in Salinas, with 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. showtimes. More information and tickets are for sale on the website here:  https://www.sanbenitodanceacademy.com/recital-tickets.html