The Salvatore LaRussa Dance Theater, located at 66-85 73rd Place off Metropolitan Avenue, opened September 20 in a ceremony attended by artists and dancers, as well as State Senator Joe Addabbo and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who helped fund the venture.
The sleek studio includes several dance spaces, with track lighting and floor-to-ceiling mirrors, a gallery space for visual art, and offices. The theater also has an outdoor space that Salvatore LaRussa, the company’s founder, said would serve as a venue for live entertainment.
LaRussa, who was born in Ridgewood and now lives in Middle Village, said the theater’s dance program, which offers a variety of dance classes in different styles, has already signed up over 20 people.
“More keeping on coming every single day,” he said.
Individual classes cost $13; a monthly membership goes for $46.80, according to Jana Naylor, the theater’s program director.
LaRussa said he hopes the theater will stimulate the arts in a neighborhood not known for dance or music.
“There’s no arts here so hopefully we’re going to fill that void,” LaRussa said. He said instead of opening the theater in Manhattan, he purposefully looked to establish a vibrant cultural venue in Middle Village.
“I came back. I did the Broadway thing, the modern thing,” said LaRussa. “Now I collected all my friends from Manhattan, Williamsburg and brought them here.”
Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, the executive director of the Queens Council on the Arts, said LaRussa has the vision to pull his plan off.
“Sal has great energy,” Krakauer said. “He’ll be a magnet to attract other artists” to the neighborhood.
Michelle Vergata, who works at Best Tress Salon, a hairdresser next to the new theater, said the space was welcome.
“There’s a lot of family people here,” Vergata said. “For a night out they need some stimulation.”