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REBIRTH OF A BALLET SCHOOL – by Sophia Malatesta

REBIRTH OF A BALLET SCHOOL by Sophia Malatesta

Strolling down into the darkness of the recently abandoned and tom
apart dance studios, a rush of nostalgia and memory came flooding over
me suddenly. A current so powerful I had to stop in place and shut my
eyes. More aware of my surroundings and senses, I was reverted to my
youth; a time when whatever occurred within those thin walls could
never be explained or brought back to life unless you yourself had experienced it.

In the comer of my closed eye I saw my girl friends who, at the time, I
thought I could never live without. We were all soul mates brought
together by binding passion and desire for classical ballet. We laughed,
we cried, we gossiped, we fought. And through it all, they were and still
are my sisters no matter how far we’ve come. I then examined deep in my heart
what the dance school actually meant to me. It was like a spiritual retreat;
a place which would let me escape the deficiencies in my life. I felt fulfilled
there, as in was doing something right and on the better, more desired path.
It allowed the gathering of us poor souls to express ourselves, in our own ways,
trying to find an answer or an outlet.

It was a chamber that withheld fascinating beauty and movement; a permanently
fixed structure which represented greatness in its own humble and tiny ways,
while the world insistently grew large and mean around us. Everything between
the classical music, the powerful combinations, and the determined faces became
ritual; there seemed to be no end in sight, which was not necessarily a bad
thing. We all ate, drank, and dreamt the Ohman School. It left a refreshingly
pure sense of trust and compassion for creativity and movement. What we had a
tight grasp on was rate. To feel at home amongst a group of strangers who
share the same desires and values seemed to be a dream which evolved into
reality whenever one stepped into one of the classrooms.

But now that all seemed so distant and long ago, and upon reopening my
eyes, mixed emotions of heavyheartedness and euphoria took me over.
Recently for the Ohman School of Ballet, a breath of fresh air
representing hope had been inhaled and the exalted result produced
something quite unimaginable. After years of being transfixed in the
back of a Montessori school, the dance studios have now been relocated
and expanded. Though just a short move down the hall, the whole spirit
of the school brought new life into the elegant dance studios.

Meeting Mr. Frank Ohman for the interview, I felt excited and thrilled to
just sit and chat with not only my former ballet teacher, but someone I
consider a life mentor and friend. After being greeted with his famously
charming smile and a big hug, we sat and held a lengthy discussion on
the progressions of life and where his dreams and passions have taken
him. Not once did it cross any of our young dancing minds how this
school for the arts came to be, and now as I have stepped back and am
able to admire, I wondered about this.

While still working as a soloist with the New York City Ballet, Mr.
Ohman ventured to find an outlet forms dance career, sensing his time
with the ballet company was nearing an end. He felt that opening his
own dance school would prove to be a more fulfilling line of work for
his future, and with encouragement from George Balanchine himself, a
chief commander in the ballet world, he sought to make this dream come
alive.

In 1974 Mr. Ohman came out to Long Island while still dancing with the
New York City Ballet. As he moved from place to place, starting in a
basement of a Methodist Church, and then temporarily relocating above
a Chinese food restaurant, he finally was able to achieve a more settled
space in the town of Huntington . It was there he was able to build up a
strong foundation of students.

Though the school in Huntington brought about many great advances and
affairs, a dark shadow lingered overhead with certain devastating events
overlapping its eight year existence. But with the support of certain
key people in Frank Ohman’s life, he was able to emerge from this rut and
start anew.

In the spring of 1990 a proposal for a new school location was brought
to his attention. It was a risky chance he took, having to refinance his
house for the cause, but one well worth taking, for his settlement at the
Montessori school in Commack took full force. He felt as though he got
a second chance; that all the hardships he faced through those rough few
years were lessons learned. It gave him the strength to grow from his
losses and to forgive those who had done him wrong. All of which add
to his personal philosophy that everything happens for a reason, and that
all things will eventually come around full circle.

The Ohman School of Ballet has flourished ever since, and Frank
Ohman is forever grateful and indebted to those who have supported him
throughout this ongoing journey. He did not have an overpowering
ambition to create a prestigious and successful ballet school, but more a
place where one could aspire to gain a sense of spirituality and substance
stemmed from dance. He has influenced so many young minds to
understand the nature of what pure beauty and reality ought to look like
through the eyes of the arts. And as he has quite dignifiedly stated,
“people nowadays ‘know the price of everything and the value of
nothing”‘.

To truly appreciate and respect an art such as classical ballet, one would
have to be able to communicate his passion and talents uniquely,
something Frank Ohman has done eloquently and brilliantly. It is the arts
which help bring out the special and intimate details in life, which,
especially in our society, are becoming increasingly overlooked.
Frank Ohman aims to help children find within themselves a sense of
self-identity. He preaches strength, and in a powerful statement he
affirms this: “You have to be strong in life. You cannot let yourself get
carried away. Don’t let anyone take away your individuality; your soul”.

One cannot be anything but amazed by the results the new studios
produced. For anyone who experienced the life of the older studios, it
seems like a surreal feat, one in which Frank Ohman surely agrees. It
sprung from nowhere, completely out from left field. He feels that things
are finally “surfacing” and a sort of “rebirth” is in place.

The phenomenon of a new school opening for the arts, classical ballet in
particular, during this terrible economic meltdown, is a sign in of itself.
He feels that “art cannot be hidden any longer, this is reality”. With this
new school surfacing in the midst of the evil and wrongful acts surfacing
in our society, it is refreshing to see success and prosperity where it is
deserved.

Though what the future of the Ohman School of Ballet holds is
unknown, Mr. Ohman is convinced that it will be delivered into the
rightful hands. His luck has brought him this far, and he has all his
achievements to prove for it. Mr. Ohman has such extreme pride for his
students with all they do, as do the students themselves. They have been
working especially hard in these new studios so as to begin giving them
the life they deserve.

The Ohman School of Ballet can only blossom from here on out. And
through much help and support of the students and their families, much
can be accomplished with some enthusiasm and grace.

During these hard times, the Ohman School should be looked to for
some rekindling of spiritual support within the community. What needs
to be remembered and embraced are the most important things in life:
family and friendship. That is exactly what the Ohman School of Ballet
has stood for, and will always offer to beautiful Long Island. All the
luck and congratulations for the future of the Ohman School of Ballet is
wished by the Ohman families because it is truly something worth
appreciating and admiring.

admin

September 30th, 2014

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