San Antonio – A San Antonio couple is sharing their love for ballet with the community after opening their very own ballet studio.
It is an idea that came to Karel Cruz and his wife, Lindsi Dec, a while ago.
“We had the opportunity when we were in company to track and perform at different schools around the United States,” Cruz said. “That gave us an idea of how ballet schools are working across the nation. We thought, ‘How can we create a ballet school and not only teach students the technique but help them be prepared for the future for audition time?’ We have seen a lot of kids have a hard time transitioning from school to the audition process to join a ballet school. We feel we can help them and guide them and teach them what is coming their way.”
The form of teaching is for people ages 11 and up who have had four to five years of training looking to go into the professional route.
“Right now, we are focusing on a professional program where we look at the structure and curriculum of what we have learned and what we were lacking when we were growing up,” said Dec. “We look at what we wished we had.”
They said they have all-encompassing classes.
“It is a lot of versatile classes,” Dec said. “Elite training, cross training, which is a great avenue for dancers. We want to offer circuit training, Pilates, yoga for dancers and everything. We want to shape dancers to help prevent injuries and help them be strong in general.”
If you don’t want to go into the audition world, there are other avenues they can help with, like dance colleges.
“If a student doesn’t want to go the ballet route, and they want to go to Broadway or want to freelance or want to model or do commercial work, they have the tools here,” Dec said. “With our connections in the ballet and dance world, we are so thrilled to bring people here to help them.”
Dec said they also offer classes for children ages 3 to 6, intermediate classes for kids 10 to 12, and offer classes to the general public, including Pilates, yoga, and beginners' classes.
“Anybody can do this,” Dec said. “The amazing thing about this is, we treat all of this like one big family environment. We have a strong family unit. The students we have now are our kids. We guide them how we would our own kids.”
The passion for ballet started at age 8 for Cruz in his home country of Cuba.
“Ballet for me has been my life,” Cruz said. “It is a beautiful art. Most people fall in love with the movements, the music and everything when they walk into a theater. It is a beautiful art that goes with or without music.”
For Dec, the passion started when she was three, growing up in Virginia.
“When I started, I loved it,” Dec said. “My mom enrolled me because I was really shy. As you can see, the opposite has happened. The way you express yourself using your body, and soul and movement. It is a great way to come out of your shell. To have that passion, discipline, and dedication, you can do some incredible things. It is very structured and we thrive on that. It is just freeing.”
The two met back in 2002 in Seattle while working with the Pacific Northwest Ballet Company.
“We both were in corps and we decided to improve our technique in order to move forward,” Cruz said. “We were very ambitious at the time. We used to go to the back studio and practice just for fun and so somebody saw us practicing one day and we got a performance. The career started just like that, in the back studio practicing, and then all of a sudden, it was just like a rush of excited moments just went through year by year. So, every year it was getting better and better and better.”
Both Cruz and Dec worked so hard that they reached the highest position as a ballet dancer, which is a principal dancer, being featured in many performances together.
“It is a very long journey to get up there,” Dec said. “Very few people get there but you are just doing principal work. You kind of carry the ballet with the help of everyone else in the company.”
The entire time, the two fell more and more in love.
“We started dating,” Dec said. “We just connected. He is very calm and I am the complete opposite but it a good balance. In 2009, we got married and in 2016 we had our first son. In 2020, we had our second son.”
The two have since retired but not after a lot of pain, blood, sweat and tears.
“I have torn my fifth metatarsal in dress rehearsal, I’ve torn both of my calves, I have sprained my neck numerous times, he has had a stress fracture in his shins. I promise it is a beautiful profession,” Dec laughed.
They said they have both dealt with obstacles as far as keeping their careers strong. For example, Cruz struggled being away from his family in Cuba for so long, and Dec struggled after having her children. The balance of family life and professional life was tough, but they said it is all worth it now that their dream studio is a reality.
“It is a lot of different emotions,” Cruz said. “It feels great to know we are finally here to talk about it so much. We are on the way to build exactly what we have been planning, but at the same time, it is scary.”
“There is something about walking into this place, seeing the bars, the marley, the mirrors and that is your home,” Dec said.
The studio is located at 8126 Broadway and despite being hit with Covid-19 regulations, they have been able to continue their dream uninterrupted.
“To see the students be excited about learning to be a professional dancer and to see them progress, it is the best feeling,” Cruz said.
“We love it and It fuels us and it motivates us,” Dec said. “I think when we teach we get more inspired by them.”
While sharing their love for ballet, they are constantly reminded why they fell in love in the first place.
“I think his best qualities is that he is very balanced and very patient,” Dec said. “The most patient person I know. With the kids and the business, he is always so cool, calm and collected. He has never changed. He is so humble, even after reaching principal dancer. I love how down to Earth he is. Always has been the same and has never changed.”
Cruz said even though Dec is very fast-paced, he loved her passion.
“She has passion for everything she does,” Cruz said. “From her career, to her family. She never stops that passion. She will never get tired. They used to call her ‘hummingbird.’”
To see performances of Cruz and Dec, click on the links below: