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Academy of Ballet celebrates 25 years in Enumclaw

In 1985, Glen and Sandra Hasstedt started The Academy of Ballet with the vision of sharing their professional ballet experiences with students and inspiring them to dance.

Twenty five years later, they are still inspiring generations of Plateau dancers.

“It was a part of my life that needed to be fulfilled,” said Trina Munsch, who was one of the Hasstedt’s first Creative Movement students as a preschooler, and now, at age 31 and a young mother, has returned to the program. “It’s something I always lived for. I love ballet, it’s a part of me.”

Sara Jones and Melody Olson also return, joining more than 100 students in this year’s classes. Welcoming them back, as well as the next generation of dancers, is especially fulfilling for the Hasstedts as they celebrate their silver anniversary in Enumclaw. Sandy said staying in touch with the students through the years, having them return and seeing their friendships continue has been a joy, and she does not plan on retiring any time soon.

“The best part for Sandy is the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of lives she’s touched in 25 years,” Glen said.

“Ballet is such an exposed, raw, revealing art form. They are self-examined to the nth degree by their teacher, by themselves when they look in the mirror. For those who are brave enough to get in there, day by day, and shape themselves and learn to dance, the rewards are great.”

They met in the 1970s with the San Fransisco Ballet in what Glen refers to as a “Nutcracker romance.” Sandy was dancing full-time with the ballet and Glen was a gymnast-turned-ballet dancer who each year was cast for a role in the “Nutcracker.” They married and eventually moved from the big city to the Pacific Northwest.

Sandy was honored by the city of Enumclaw at the June 14 city council meeting for her 25 years of service to the community as a business owner.

The Hasstedts joke about how they moved to Enumclaw in 1984 and found themselves suddenly recruited to start a ballet school – literally in a cow pasture – since the first school was in the Krain area.

“It’s been an amazing ride here,” Glen said. “It took right off.”

The pair stayed true to their heart, teaching Russian/American classical ballet, but were open to a broader area too. For a time, Glen taught gymnastics, and later Sandy added tap, jazz and hip hop classes.

Each year, there is always a performance that showcases the students’ talent, as well as bringing in a professional performer to inspire them and delight audiences.

“It’s a great memory thing for these kids,” Glen said of each year’s performance.

The first part of the program highlights the students.

“They each get their moment to shine,” Sandy said, and show what the’ve been learning all year.

The more advanced dancers follow, along with the guest artist. This year it is Joel Myer from Dance Spectrum, and perhaps, the Hasstedts’ daughter Larke, who after making a name for herself with the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Evergreen City Ballet and Oregon Ballet Theater, is hitting it big in the hip-hop scene dancing with some of pop music’s biggest names.

Celebrating 25 years, the Hasstedts will also perform a pas de deux this year. The performance concludes with the ballet “Con Amore.”

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