A Study in Motion

The prestigious Los Angeles Ballet Academy settles into its new Encino digs, cultivating talent and turning locals on to the art of dance.

The minute you step through the glass doors of the Los Angeles Ballet Academy (LABA), you feel like stretching, moving … dancing! Maybe that’s why it’s home base for nearly 400 students who take classes in jazz, contemporary, hip hop, Zumba, fitness and yoga. And when it comes to classical ballet, well, that’s a whole other pirouette. The school’s signature training, based on London’s Royal Academy of Dance, combined with performance opportunities through its in-house companies LA Youth Ballet and Theatrics Dance Company, offers young dancers the chance to fulfill their dreams. Studio owner Andrea Paris-Gutierrez says her passion for ballet stems back to her native New Zealand. “I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else,” she says. Andrea received her early training from her mother, a ballet teacher who ran her own dance school in Auckland.

At 16, she attended the New Zealand School of Ballet and was invited to join their company. But at 5 feet, 10 inches (much taller than the average ballerina), her contract was not renewed after the first year. Struggling to find work, she decided to move to LA, where the commercial dance scene of the late 1970s was in full swing. Andrea quickly found dance gigs in television, musical theater and commercials. “But I always ended up assisting the choreographer, running the rehearsals and acting as dance captain. I must have always had that sort of ‘dance teacher vibe’ going on,” she remembers. It wasn’t long before Andrea recognized her true calling right here in the Valley—on Ventura Boulevard at the Moro Landis Studios. “Ballet is an art form that has a great element of struggle. You can’t just pay for it and have it. You can’t Google it and have it.

You have to come in, get on the floor and do it over and over again before you start getting what you want out of it.” Andrea Paris-Gutierrez “I began teaching a two-hour ballet class that quickly grew so large, I had to rent a bigger studio. Eventually I opened my own, the LA Ballet Academy, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.” The academy celebrated the occasion by relocating from Reseda to its new home on Ventura Boulevard in Encino.” It’s not just the spacious, state-of-the-art studios and experienced faculty that makes LABA one of the Southland’s most popular schools. It’s Andrea’s simple philosophy—create an environment that’s safe and happy and encourages students to invest in their art through dedication.

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