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After the gold-rush, 'let's dance' -- Marin Ballet

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Dominican College lies in the older part of San Rafael. As an institution in Marin County, Calif., it shares the once-upon-a-gold-rush ambiance from which the current myth o "Marvelous Marin" arises. Over the years college students have seen the locale go from lumbermen to summer retreaters to affluent ferry commuters.

A World War II shipyard served as economic catalyst to the area's secluded, woodsy, rural Bay Area setting. And hand in hand with the postwar expansion, and with the seekers of California sunshine, nature, and civilized amenities, came seirous ballet.

Instrumental in the formation of the Marin Ballet Association was the late Leona Norman. Her ceoncept of sustained, leisurely training was backed by parents and other supporters. In 1972 the association bought an unused chapel and remodeled it with funds from Cowell Foundation. Dominican College was but a five-minute walk distant, and talk immediately began about collaboration between the school and Marin Ballet.

Discussions with a former president of Dominican College led to the association of Marin Ballet and Dominican College in the establishment of a BA degree in dance with a ballet emphasis.

Under Marai Vegh, Marin Ballet provides the technical training and classes. To head its new dance department, Dominican selected Carol Teten, whose background from Sarah Lawrence College, five years of teaching and choreographing in Israel, and a master of arts degree from University of California at Los Angeles have led her into the reconstruction of historical dances.

As diminutive and determined as her colleague Maria Vegh, Carol Teten speaks directly and succinctly. "The first year has been auspicious. We had a dozen students, two of whom danced with Marin Ballet. Auditions were required.Enrollment in the Dominican dance program doesn't mean that Margaret Swarthout, Marin Ballet Company's artistic director, automatically takes a student into the company. She's ex-Royal Ballet and is equally selective with the Marin Ballet School students.

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