TJC Academy of Dance dedicates Clara’s Studio, Margaret’s Wing

The youngest members of the TJC Academy of Dance have a new space that’s just for them.

Named for the most notable character in Tchaikovsky’s classic “Nutcracker” ballet, Clara’s Studio was repurposed from a racquetball court into a facility serving academy students ages 3 to 10, for ballet and modern and pre-ballet classes.

The 40- by 20-foot studio has special flooring that has been welded together and features tall, shatterproof mirrors and ballet barres made of titanium that will never wear out.

The project was underwritten by a gift from an anonymous TJC donor.

“The name, Clara’s Studio, honors the young and aspiring dancers who will study here,” academy director Carolyn Hanna said. “It also pays tribute to the community legacy of the academy and our tradition of doing ‘The Nutcracker’ ballet, which we’ve been doing at TJC for 27 years.”

Hanna also recognized the academy’s talented troupe of dancers, some of whom have recently been chosen to train at renowned programs, including the Atlanta Ballet, the Orlando Ballet, Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and the Joffrey Ballet in New York City.

“We thank our donors who continue to help us with our productions of ‘The Nutcracker,’ DanceFest and our Academy Showcase,” she said, “and we thank Tyler Junior College for helping us with this expansion.

“Clara’s Studio is the result of the generous support of so many of you. Of course, we owe special thanks to our anonymous donor, who has provided a state-of-the-art resource for the academy and future generations of young dancers.

Also at the event, longtime academy supporter Margaret Perkins was surprised with the naming of “Margaret’s Wing,” which houses three TJC Academy of Dance studios, the training ground for about 400 students per year.

“I’m thrilled to have a wing,” Mrs. Perkins said to the crowd of about 100, including many young dancers who train at the academy.

“The dancers here so richly deserve a better environment. So, to every dancer here who will know what this means: Just break a leg.”

TJC President Dr. Metke said, “Some of the best surprises I’ve had at TJC actually had to do with Margaret Perkins. She and her husband, Jim, have helped with the Japanese garden on our West Campus, the TJC Academy of Dance, and they created the Rusk TJC Citizens Promise scholarship program.

“They are true friends of the college, and we so appreciate all they’ve done here.”

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