Cuban ballet arts can be experienced “up close and personal” in Blankenship Ballet Company of Venice’s latest Cuban Ballet and Dance Exhibition at 7 p.m. Saturday, October 25th, at 132 Brooks Ave., Venice.

Bertha Suarez Blankenship, the company’s prima ballerina and artistic director, says she has hand-picked a chosen few of distinguished world-class dancers to work within this outstanding Ballet Ensemble.

Mark Blankenship is responsible for creating the performance space called the Blankenship Ballet Studio. The structure was built in 1905 as a Christian Science church, but had been rarely used since 1937. In 2007, Mark Blankenship renovated and restored it, creating a grand ballroom studio space that is the new home for The Blankenship Ballet Company of Venice, located less than two blocks from the boardwalk and the beach.

Mark Blankenship is a Yale-educated venture capitalist has been an active impresario of the ballet arts since 1996, creating and producing ballet performances in various places in California

Bertha Suarez Blankenship is a native of Cuba who danced professionally in Cuba for more than14 years with the Ballet de Camaguey, under the direction of Fernando Alonso, considered to be the “father” of Cuban ballet arts, and with the Ballet Nacional de Cuba under the direction of Alicia Alonso.

In 1994, while on tour with the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Bertha defected two hours before a performance of Swan Lake on the Caribbean Island of Martinique, eventually finding freedom in the United States. Upon her arrival she performed under the direction of the late Fernando Bujones, who is quoted in the El Nuevo Herald (of the Miami Herald) as exclaiming, “Bertha Suarez is an extraordinary ballerina.”

The efforts and collaboration of Mark and Bertha Blankenship have created and produced the Venice venue as well as a series of performances with the goal of inspiring spectators to appreciate the powerful and evocative ballet arts. The Blank- enship Ballet Company of Venice has the mission of amplifying Cuban ballet arts through the exhibition of ballet in a myriad of performance venues, says a spokesman for the company.

The October 25th performance is $15 with prepaid reservation or $20 at the door. Children are admitted free. Major credit cards are accepted.

Information, (866) 922-5538, www.blankenshipballet.com/.

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