San Antonio/ Arts & Culture
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Published on June 17, 2024
Earle Cobb Dance Studio Marks 95 Years with Festive Reunion at San Antonio's Lila Cockrell TheatreSource: Google Street View

Last week, San Antonio's Earle Cobb Dance Studio pulled off a remarkable reunion to celebrate its 95th birthday, marking nearly a century of pirouettes, tap clicks, and jetés. The revelry took over the Lila Cockrell Theatre stage with a high-energy number, seeing over 50 past and present dance enthusiasts of the storied establishment come to life in unison to the beat of "Presto! Let me be a dancin' fool!" As San Antonio Report highlighted, the event not just celebrated longevity but also the deep connections formed through dance over generations.

There was indeed an element of what could only be called 'organized chaos,' an atmosphere that the founder's granddaughter and current studio owner, Dena Mabry, finds comforting. "A lot of choreographers don't like big numbers of dancers, but the more the merrier," Mabry said in a statement obtained by San Antonio Report. Mother-daughter pairs and longtime friends donned reunion T-shirts, and some even flew in from across the country to join the jamboree. Among the dancers was Margaret Mann, a direct student of Earle Cobb and one who has remained close to the family. Despite feeling a tad rusty, 82-year-old Mann was encouraged by fellow dancers with high-fives and support.

The Earle Cobb Dance Studio, founded in 1929, started with humble beginnings above a grocery store. It quickly became a local staple for soldiers stationed in San Antonio and later expanded to include a wide array of dance styles and students. With a focus more on enjoyment than competition, the studio has fostered not just dance skills but also a societal appreciation for the performing arts. "Even if you're not dancing, you can go see beautiful performances and appreciate dance, and I think that appreciation starts from very young," Mabry told the San Antonio Report.

This sentiment seems to thrive even among the studio's youngest dancers. Lauren Bonnema, an alumna now enrolling her daughters at Earle Cobb, was initially hesitant to participate but was finally convinced by her mother. "She's my best friend, she pushes me out of my comfort zone," Bonnema said to San Antonio Report. Four generations of Bonnema's family have now been touched by the studio's magic. Others, like Ariana de Leon, a recent graduate of the North East School of the Arts, took in the reunion performance with awe and aspirations to continue the tradition.

With over 550 students currently enrolled and a rich history to draw upon, Earle Cobb Dance Studio seems poised to comfortably pirouette into its 100th anniversary—no small feat in the ever-changing landscape of arts education.