Students, teachers and supporters of the non-profit American National Academy of Performing Arts in Studio City have launched a campaign to save the school from public auction.
The Academy was founded in 1957 and offers classes for children and adults Tuesdays and Saturdays in ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, song interpretation, musical comedy, and acting.
The Academy is famous for its annual holiday show, where students sing and dance to classic Broadway show tunes. Songs from The Sound of Music to Annie Get Your Gun have been a staple of the program. The school has been deeply rooted in keeping these traditions alive for over 40 years with the help of the teachers who donate their time.
The Academy was founded by screen legend Francis Lederer and the traditions he set in place have been continued by Dorothy Barrett, who at 96 years old still teaches at the school. Up until she was 95 you could find her tap dancing with the children every Saturday afternoon.
Dorothy herself is an icon of Studio City and a shining reminder of the old hollywood era that she was a part of. She was under contract with MGM in the 40s, danced with Fred Astaire, worked with Bob Hope, was best friends with Joan Crawford, and had supporting roles in Gone With The Wind, The Wizard of Oz, and Mildred Pierce. She has dedicated the past 60 years of her life to teaching and inspiring children.
When Francis Lederer passed away in 2000, followed by his wife in 2011, his estate Trustee sold Francis’ 50% ownership of the Academy to an outside investor who will put the Academy up for auction on May 17.
The students and Barrett hope to raise $1 million before that date to buy out the investor and save the building, allowing Dorothy to continue to live and teach at the school.
The Academy is not only a historical and educational landmark, but it has been Dorothy’s place of residence for over 50 years. She actually lives above the school and her apartment is filled with memorabilia from her past. The sale of the building would force the school to move and threaten Dorothy’s well being.
Donations can be made here.