MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For more than three decades, the Miami City Ballet has risen to become one of the nation’s top ballet companies.

Now with performances stopped, Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road District is honoring the ballet’s early days, where they first began on Lincoln Road. It’s a new popup space for the dancers.

This residency called Miami City Ballet + Lincoln Road is a joint effort between the Miami City Ballet, the Lincoln Road Business Improvement District, and the Comras Company.

Micheal Comras owns the building at 744 Lincoln Road that was formerly occupied by the retail store BCBG.

“About a month ago I received a call from BCBG that they had filed for bankruptcy. unfortunately. The space, it was such a magnificent space, it’s a historic structure on Lincoln Road,” said Comras. “So I just sat there and said I want to get the ballet back here. I picked up the phone and I called them and the next thing you know we’ve got a collaboration going on.”

The jewel box space is now the setting for a practice venue where dancers can safely stay in shape while onlookers can safely view them. No more than six dancers will occupy the space at any given time.

Chase and Suzette Swatosh are dancers at the Miami City Ballet and have been married for more than four years. They say getting to practice in this elegant setting while shoppers stop to watch them feels extra special.

“Yes, we have quite a few people that are peeping in and curious, so it’s great. We have costumes in the windows for them to look at as well, so it’s great publicity for us too,” Suzette Swatoash said.

“It’s cool because Lincoln Road is one of the most popular locations on the beach for locals and tourists alike. It’s also the location where Miami City Ballet originated. We first had our studio not far from here, so it’s kind of cool to touch back to our roots a little bit and be here where people can see us,” said Chase Swatosh.

Outside, pre-marked social-distancing circles will be placed on the ground so that viewers can safely enjoy the experience.

The ballet’s main headquarters is currently being used by the summer programs so this light and airy pop-up gives the dancers plenty of room to move.

“This has been a huge step up for us as opposed to the bar in our tiny living room, kicking furniture with the dogs getting in the way. We are very grateful,” Suzette Swatosh said giggling.

To further enhance the viewing experience, dance-inspired music will stream outdoors during every practice.

“We have to look for different things to provide some life and energy, so when we look at bringing culture into a dynamic and an immersive environment like this, it’s sort of great. It’s a feel-good project. It hits all cylinders,” said Comras.

You can check out the Miami City Ballets dancers at 744 Lincoln Road, Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. through September 10th.

Lisa Petrillo

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