For 21 years, Bette-Ann Libin’s Studio of Dance and Youth Ballet has had the ideal location at 11 S. Main St.
Indeed, the building, which has served as a Masonic Temple and has housed two dance studios, is perfectly situated in West Hartford Center and has the right amount of space for ballet classes downstairs and end-of-the-year performances upstairs.
But, with the sale of the building to Charles and Maurice Kaoud - co-owners of Kaoud Oriental Rugs - for $1.3 million in August, the long-time youth ballet studio will have to find a new home by February 2014.
“I’m heartbroken,” Libin said. “It’s going to be a tough day when I close this door for the last time. … Everything works here. It flowed, just like dance.”
Which isn’t to say that Libin is upset about the building’s sale.
“I congratulate [the Kaouds] on their purchase,” she said. “I would do the same thing if I could.”
What’s more, the Kaouds gave the tenants six months to stay in the building.
“They were very gracious,” said Libin, who added that she wanted to ensure that anything written would focus on the positive aspects of the building’s sale.
Still, that leaves Libin having to find a suitable place to relocate in West Hartford. So far, Lubin has not been successful.
“I’ve searched for a space that’s appropriate for what we do and is affordable,” she said. “I’ve exhausted everything.”
Libin said that she has looked at schools, synagogues, churches and the community center, none of which have worked out.
She has also met with a town official about finding a new space within the town.
“I need 11 hours per week [to teach classes],” she said. “We have been graced with this space for 20 years. … It’s a private environment. Clients come by word of mouth.”
The building is also next door to Sweet Frog, Ben & Jerry’s and other popular places for kids in the Center. Libin said that the kids and their parents would stream into other local businesses before, during and after classes.
If the small business does not find a new location, it could mean losing something unique in West Hartford, Libin said.
“There is no other business like us,” Libin said in a recent interview. “I am the only professional [ballet] training school for children.”
Students range in age from 3 to their teens and are taught the Russian system of classical ballet classes, Libin said. The ballet studio has also been active in fundraisers and performs at convalescent homes and senior centers.
Libin, who estimates that she has taught over 1,000 girls in her two decades in business,
said she does not want to think about cleaning out the eight closets she has full of costumes, props, photos and memories.
For now, Libin keeps an open mind and is hopeful that something will break in the upcoming months.“I just want to keep teaching,” she said. “I don’t want to stop.”