Boulder City Magazine is a monthly publication full of information about Boulder City and Southern Nevada. Boulder City Magazine features the Boulder City Home Guide, a real estate guide to Boulder City and Southern Nevada.

Short Stories
Growing Up In The Ballet World
by Amy Arnaz

I grew up in Las Vegas attending John S. Park Elementary School and Valley High School.

I could not skip when I was 7 years old. By coincidence, Christina Carson lived across the street from my family and would watch me fall down, fall off my bike, roller skate with no control and generally act like the clumsy child I was. Miss Carson introduced herself to my mother one day and informed her I needed ballet lessons. I soon found myself enrolled in the very strict, excellent ballet lessons of the Grand Mistress of Ballet, Miss Carson. She was the ballet teacher in Las Vegas in the 1950s and 1960s. Even in the ’70s when she was older, her classes were the most sought out ballet classes in Las Vegas, being filled with professional dancers and students from across Vegas Valley.

Miss Carson danced with the famed Ballet Russe, the Paris Opera and the Royal Ballet. I studied with her from age 7 through high school and then joined the San Diego Ballet Company, while attending college at San Diego State. From there, I returned to Las Vegas to join the newly formed Nevada Dance Theatre under the direction of my dear teacher and friend, Vassili Sulich.

It was those years studying with Vassili that made me realize the value of my early ballet lessons with Miss Carson. Vassili loved my technique and made me a soloist with his company, and that never would have happened if I hadn’t submitted myself to years of Miss Carson’s correction and discipline. She never once hugged me, even when I was a little girl, but she did teach me how to dance!

During my years with Nevada Dance Theatre, I taught ballet at UNLV in the evenings and began teaching ballet classes at the Boulder City Recreation Center. I’ll always be thankful to the BC Rec Center for launching my 27-year teaching career in Boulder City. After a year at the Rec Center, I opened the first location of Dance Etc. in the building where the Big Horn Restaurant is today. When Burt Hansen bought that building, I relocated Dance Etc. to the corner of Avenue C and Wyoming, where the Pet Plaza is now located. Outgrowing that location, I moved Dance Etc. to the Von’s Shopping Center for 3 years, then finally to it’s current location in the cute pink building in Hotel Plaza.

Moving a dance studio four times wasn’t easy! Each move involved buying new mirrors, laying new wooden dance floors and welding new ballet barres. In a bittersweet decision, I sold Dance Etc. three years ago to one of my employees, Anna Lawson. Today, I devote my time to the Boulder City Ballet Company and to the Historic Boulder Theatre my husband, Desi Arnaz Jr., purchased in 1997.

My philosophy about teaching ballet lesson? “Teach with love and discipline comes easily.” I wish Miss Carson would have hugged that clumsy little girl just once and said, “Good job, Amy.” But she never did. I made up for it by pouring love and hugs onto my students. I love each girl I ever taught and am thankful for the many wonderful years I spent as “Miss Amy” in our wonderful town, Boulder City.

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