Bonnie Curtis, owner and artistic director of the Curtis Studio of Dance in Carpinteria, has announced her retirement after 40 years of teaching dance. This year, Curtis will retire after coordinating her last annual event, “Sparkle, Shine and Celebrate.” The studio will remain operational under new management.

In her four-decade career, Curtis worked with thousands of young dancers. She taught and oversaw hundreds of classes, and hosted the studio’s annual recital and Christmas performance of the Nutcracker every year.

“It’s been a wonderful career—I hesitate to even call it a job,” said Curtis. “It’s going to be difficult not to go into the studio and see the people I’ve loved and worked with for years and years.”

Curtis was born into a performance family. Dance training began in Florida at the Grace Thomas Studio of Dance. Since the age of five, she danced as a soloist and performed with her mother and brother all over the east coast. She danced a variety of styles with the Palm Beach Ballet Company, performing on stage, theater-in-the-round and on television. In addition to dance, Curtis studied classical piano for 10 years and was a top 1- and 3-meter springboard diver in the U.S. 

Curtis’ mother, Mary Lou, opened the Curtis Studio of Dance on 9th Street in 1973. Bonnie Curtis assisted her mother for eight years, studying dance technique and learning how to impart that knowledge to dancers. Curtis took over the management of the studio in 1981. After her mother’s retirement in 1987, Curtis poured her heart and soul into the studio knowing that nothing felt better then working with and seeing the dancers accomplish their goals. Curtis is also founding member of the Carpinteria Valley Arts Council.

After a life spent dancing, Curtis said the time is right to take a step back and retire from the studio in order to spend more time with family, to travel and try new things.

“I think the word passion is probably overused, but that’s the best word for how I feel about dance,” Curtis said. “I’ve been very, very fortunate to find myself in a place where I could share my passion for dance. There aren’t a lot of people who are able to fulfill their passion in a job or a career.”

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