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Alegria Ballroom finds new downtown home
In Business
Gabrielle Forrest, (center) cuts the ribbon at her dance studio Alegria Ballroom Dance Academys new location, which opened in early August. - photo by Photo Contributed

Type of business: Dance studio

Hours: Private lessons and weekly group classes

Location: 223 S. Golden State Blvd. Suite 15,

Contact information: 925-980-5683

Specialty: Individualized dancing lessons

History of business:

As Gabrielle Forrest hunted for Alegria Ballroom Dance Academy’s new location, she told friends, family and acquaintances who lent a hand in the search that she had just one condition.

“Anytime anyone sent me a possible location, my first question was, ‘Is it downtown?’” said Forrest. “If the answer was no, I told them, ‘Sorry, I’m not interested.’”

Forrest’s dreams came true when one summer day the owners of downtown paint studio Rembrandt and Rosé called her up to say that they would be moving, and wondered if she would like to move into their location. Though the venue was small – located in an upstairs Scandia Village suite – Forrest knew that its location was one she couldn’t pass up.

“I was willing to sacrifice on space just to be in a better location,” said Forrest. “I wanted to be a part of downtown because it’s booming, and I love that this space is right smack in the middle of it.”

A few fresh coats of paint, a couple huge mirrors and a new laminate wood floor later, the paint studio was turned into a space perfect for dance, where Forrest and other instructors now teach private and group ballet, salsa, bachata, hip hop and even “twerkout” lessons. Weekly, the space is turned into Kids Ballroom for children ages 5 through 10, and on weekend nights, dance students can book Sips and Salsa parties where they can learn to dance with friends.

Forrest takes pride in the fact that her studio provides something for everyone and gives community members something that’s not only fun to do, but benefits them as well. The new, smaller space has also allowed her to become more hands-on when it comes to her students, she added.

“Because our class sizes are so limited, students benefit from more one-on-one teacher attention. It’s like taking a private lesson in a group environment,” said Forrest. “We’ve found that students progress a lot better, and feel a lot more confident because the space is tucked away. This is really such a great little sanctuary upstairs.”

In addition to the benefits of her new studio, Forrest also pointed out how dancing can help one’s overall health, from increasing a student’s number of calories burned in a day (typically 300 to 500 calories per 45-minute session) to adding more steps to one’s activity level.

Dancing can enhance a student’s social life as well, she added.

“People develop friendships that they wouldn’t have developed outside of the dance world,” said Forrest. “I’ve had people rekindle romances in the studio, people meet and find significant others in the studio and I’ve even seen people make their new best friends in the studio.”

Forrest is hoping that many more relationships will be formed at Alegria’s new location.

“Personality comes out with dance, and they find this glow that they maybe didn’t have before,” she said. “The new studio is so bright, and it’s just a completely fresh start.”

Drop-ins at Alegria cost $15 if there is availability in the class, and instead of monthly enrollment options, punch cards for five, 10 or 20 prepaid classes are available. For more information, visit Alegria Ballroom Dance Academy on Facebook.