Waiting list open for for free ballet classes at HP Community Center

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published December 25, 2017

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HAZEL PARK — A new recreation program is coming to Hazel Park, giving kids the opportunity to learn ballet for the unbeatable price of free.

The new program, Rosebud Ballet, for ages 4 and older, will take place at the Hazel Park Community Center, 620 W. Woodward Heights Blvd., every Saturday from Jan. 6 to Feb. 24, with classes at 9 and 10 a.m. Most applicants are between ages 4 and 11.

Both classes are currently full, but there is a waiting list available for spots that open up. 

The woman spearheading the program, Hilarie Chambers, previously served as district administrator and chief of staff for Rep. Sander Levin. That position gave her the opportunity to work with Hazel Park officials and relatives.

“I moved back to Michigan full time this summer and wanted to devote some of my volunteer time to Hazel Park,” Chambers said. “I spoke to (City Manager) Ed Klobucher about the idea behind Rosebud Ballet, and he put me in touch with the Recreation Department because he thought there may be interest in hosting a class.” 

The classes will teach the basics of classical ballet, including the skills used at a barre, as well as turns, jumps and simple dances. There will also be supplemental activities such as drawing, journal writing and reading. 

“The idea behind Rosebud Ballet is to combine basic instruction with creative activities to encourage positive body image, confidence and leadership,” Chambers said. “No prior knowledge is required. My expectation is that students work hard, be kind to each other and have fun. Each week, they will share their ‘rose’ — something good that happened that week — and their ‘bud’ — something they are looking forward to in the next week.” 

Sareen Papakhian, the city’s director of recreation, said the program was pitched by Chambers as her way to give back to the community, all at no cost to the city or its residents.

“We rarely get this type of opportunity, so needless to say, Hazel Park Recreation was in full support of offering this,” Papakhian said. “Hilarie has mentioned an empowerment component for children, which I think is fantastic. It really adds a layer to this program that we don’t often see.” 

Papakhian mentioned that Hazel Park Recreation also has ongoing karate and tai chi classes, and in the future, it will be offering gymnastics. Hazel Park Recreation also offers baseball and soccer in joint leagues with Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge and Oak Park. 

Hazel Park City Councilwoman Amy Aubry said ballet made a positive impact in her life.

“I started ballet when I was about 4 years old,” Aubry said. “I continued dancing into college because ballet offered a lot to my life — exercise, discipline, creativity and so much more. I think it’s wonderful when people give to the community, and I’m excited to see Hilarie Chambers bringing this opportunity to ours.”

Chambers said she’s eager to get started. 

“I’m excited about starting the classes to share my love of ballet and the foundation of lifelong skills that I’ve experienced through my involvement in dance and gymnastics,” Chambers said. “There is something unique about ballet in the discipline, body awareness and confidence it can inspire.” 

For more information, including an application for the waiting list, contact Hilarie Chambers by calling (248) 224-4778 or by emailing Hilarie.Chambers@gmail.com.