A New Chapter for Ballet for Topanga

By Molly Davis

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A New Chapter for Ballet for Topanga
It was a packed house at the Topanga Community Center with Ms. Alice’s Nutcracker Winter Recital on Sunday, Dec. 10. These little dancers worked so hard and showed off their adorable routines to their Topanga audience. Photos by Bob Jason
Over the past 44 years, Sherry Jason has become known throughout the Canyon for her commitment to teaching ballet to Topanga’s children of all ages. Sherry’s love for teaching Ballet started at a young age with her first classes held in her parent’s garage when she was just eleven years old. Her dedication to teaching ballet continued even as she completed Law School and worked as a Deputy Public Defender in the Juvenile Courts of L.A. County. In 1979, Sherry and her husband, Bob Jason, founded Ballet for Topanga. Every year since 1981, as part of a beloved community tradition, Sherry’s students performed the Topanga Nutcracker ballet at the Community House.
Ballet for Topanga found an unexpected shift in its demographics once Sherry Jason resumed classes after COVID: Adult students. (Left to right) Gail Wronsky, Christi Engel, Kerry Hill, Azura Storozynsky, Jessica Forrester ( in pink tights). Photo by Sherry Jason
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, forced Sherry to pause her classes and cancel the Nutcracker for the first time in 39 years. “I feel the loss of our Nutcracker so deeply and profoundly,” Sherry said with tears in her eyes. “I miss it so very much. And, what I miss most is the sharing of a dedication with children and their families, watching kids from three years to 18 discover their sense of personal best, working to their highest potential and honoring a tradition and commitment to this beautiful 300-year-old art form.”

Once she felt it was safe to welcome students back to her studio, she noticed an unexpected shift in her demographics—adults expressed a new-found interest in learning ballet. While Sherry’s studio has always been open to students of any age, the majority of her past students had been children and teenagers. Suddenly, she found herself teaching a weekly class with adult students, many of whom had never taken a ballet lesson before.

Ballet for Topanga is not the only studio to experience this surge of interest from older students looking to return to ballet or start for the first time. On August 30th, The New York Times published an article about the growing popularity of ballet among older adults. The author suggested that this surge in interest might be linked to a growing awareness of ballet’s distinct health advantages, particularly for aging bodies and minds. These benefits include enhanced balance, flexibility training, and core strengthening. While practices like yoga and Pilates also offer similar health perks, ballet stands out due to its wider range of movements and an additional cognitive advantage that may even reduce the risk of dementia.

While Sherry has always had a deep passion for teaching children, she is thoroughly enjoying the new challenge of instructing adults of various ages and skill levels. Currently, she teaches her “Ladies’ Class” on Friday mornings from 10:00-11:15 a.m.

“We are having so much fun in this class. The feeling is light and no stress, adapting to the physical issues and concerns of each student and striving for a sense of artistry and grace,” she said.

A new adults-only class on Thursday evenings from 6:30-8:00 p.m. will launch in January, 2024. These class sizes are intentionally kept small to allow Sherry to tailor her teaching to the diverse abilities of her students and provide ample personalized attention and feedback. Sherry continues to teach children as well, including a class for ages 4-6 on Monday afternoons from 4:30-5:15 p.m. She is also open to starting classes for other age groups based on interest.

All classes are taught by Sherry and take place in her beautiful dance studio in Fernwood. Students of all ages, genders, skill levels, and body types are welcome to discover or rediscover the joy of ballet.

For more information, contact Sherry at(310) 455-3939; or sherryjason.ballet@gmail.com

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